Colors in Your Diet: Red and Green

Sep 12, 2023 Healthy Eating 5 MIN

Colors in Your Diet: Red and Green

When you put together an outfit or decorate your home, do you prefer all one color or a variety of colorful shades? While in style and interior design that falls to personal preference, in terms of our diets, it's best to make your plate as bright and colorful as possible! Foods come in all sorts of colors, and the color of each food can function as a rough guide to what benefits they may have. Today, we will focus on red and green, festive colors that are good to eat all year round!

Red Fruits and Veggies

Red is not only the best color of candy but also covers some of the tastiest, sweetest, and healthiest fruits! Red fruits like cherries, cranberries, raspberries, and strawberries are common additions for anyone looking to add a punch of sweetness and flavor to their day. Thankfully, the taste isn't all they're good for; red fruits are good sources of Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as minerals Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium, among others![1]

Why are Red Foods Healthy?

Red might not be the first color that comes to mind when you think of vegetables, but you shouldn't forget them in your diet. When comparing differently colored bell peppers, the red bell pepper was shown to have the highest content of Beta-Carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A, which is essential for healthy skin.[2] Toss a little red in your salad to give it color, flavor, and nutrition!†

Strawberries

If you want to add Vitamin C to your diet, try putting some strawberries in your oatmeal, in your smoothie, or directly into your mouth. You can get over 100% of your daily recommended value of Vitamin C with just one cup of sliced fresh strawberries.[3]

Beets

It's hard to beat beets when you're looking for antioxidant-rich vegetables. Beets contain minerals like Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorous, and Potassium, along with Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A in the body.[4] Try roasting beets with salt and pepper or tossing them raw into your favorite leafy green salad!

Cranberries

The tart cranberry is loaded with a healthy helping of antioxidant Vitamins E and C, along with Vitamin K1, which helps support a healthy circulatory system.[5] Whip up cranberry sauce to top a savory meal or toss some in your smoothie for a tart kick to balance the sweetness.†

Tomatoes

The eternal riddle: Are tomatoes vegetables, or are they fruit? While our greatest philosophers may never agree on the answer, one thing we can all agree upon is their health benefits. Tomatoes are a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K1, and Vitamin B9 (or Folate).[6] Vitamin C is an antioxidant that supports the immune system and helps neutralize free radicals in the body, while Folate is important for cellular energy production and nervous system function. Slice some tomatoes next time you put together a sandwich, or pop in some cherry tomatoes when looking for a healthy snack!†

Leafy Green and Mean

The color green is so entwined with our idea of healthy food that we often use it as a substitute for any kind of vegetable. How often have you heard someone say you "have to eat your greens?" Well, there's a good reason for it! Green foods, particularly leafy, dark green vegetables, are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and are generally low-calorie and high-fiber. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that adult women eat 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day and adult men eat 2.5 to 4 cups of vegetables per day.[7]

Why Are Green Foods Healthy?

Common nutrients in healthy greens include Vitamin A (as Beta Carotene), which helps support healthy vision; Vitamin C, which supports a healthy immune systemVitamin K, antioxidants, Calcium, Fiber, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, and Potassium. The high antioxidant levels in these dark green vegetables help neutralize free radicals in the body to support overall health.[8] If you're looking for green foods to add to your diet, look no further!

Spinach

If you’re looking to support your overall health, one place to look is spinach! Just one cup of raw spinach delivers over 100% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin K1, which supports healthy artery function, and a good amount of Vitamin A, a skin health nutrient.[9, 10, 11] Try adding spinach to your smoothie for a dose of vitamins, or substitute spinach for lettuce in your salads or sandwiches!

Kale

Another dark green leafy vegetable, kale contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You can eat it raw or cooked; just one cup of cooked kale packs a whopping four times the daily recommended value of Vitamin K1 and is a rich source of Vitamin A![12] Try it in a chopped kale salad and add some apples and raisins to balance it with sweetness. Massage the kale first to soften it and lessen some of the bitterness!

Bok Choy

Bok choy is a Chinese cabbage with sweet, leafy greens, making it the perfect add-in for soups and stir-fries or a stand-alone vegetable side dish next to your favorite protein. Rich in various vitamins and minerals, bok choy adds an earthy flavor to dishes and pairs well with Asian cuisine. Bok choy includes Vitamins A, C, K, and Folate, along with minerals Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, and Potassium.[13]

The Bottom Line

Adding more plant-based foods to your daily diet—particularly dark, leafy green vegetables and red fruits and vegetables—is a good step. While tasty on their own, these nutritional powerhouses make great add-ins to salads, protein smoothies, soups, stir-fries, and grain bowls. Use the list above as a starting point for healthy green and red fruits and veggies you should eat regularly. If you do not consume as much of these nutritious foods, consider adding a nutritional supplement to your daily routine, like our Nature Made® Multi Vitamin Gummies, which pack in Vitamins A, C, and D as well as Zinc help support the immune system.†


† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


References

  1. Cosme F, Pinto T, Aires A, et al. Red Fruits Composition and Their Health Benefits-A Review. Foods. 2022;11(5):644. Published 2022 February 23. doi:10.3390/foods11050644 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8909293/
  2. Sun T, Xu Z, Wu CT, Janes M, Prinyawiwatkul W, No HK. Antioxidant activities of different colored sweet bell peppers (Capsicum annuum L.). J Food Sci. 2007 Mar;72(2):S98-102. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2006.00245.x. PMID: 17995862. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17995862/
  3. Strawberries, raw. FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167762/nutrients. Published April 1, 2019. Accessed August 3, 2023.
  4. Beets, cooked, boiled, drained. FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169146/nutrients. Published April 1, 2019. Accessed August 3, 2023.
  5. Nemzer BV, Al-Taher F, Yashin A, Revelsky I, Yashin Y. Cranberry: Chemical Composition, Antioxidant Activity and Impact on Human Health: Overview. Molecules. 2022;27(5):1503. Published 2022 Feb 23. doi:10.3390/molecules27051503 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8911768/
  6. Collins EJ, Bowyer C, Tsouza A, Chopra M. Tomatoes: An Extensive Review of the Associated Health Impacts of Tomatoes and Factors That Can Affect Their Cultivation. Biology (Basel). 2022;11(2):239. Published 2022 Feb 4. doi:10.3390/biology11020239 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8869745/
  7. USDA My Plate. "What foods are in the Vegetable Group?" 2021. Accessed on: August 3, 2023. https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/vegetables
  8. USDA Agricultural Research Service. "Dark Green Leafy Vegetables." 2013. Accessed on: August 3, 2023. https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/gfnd/gfhnrc/docs/news-2013/dark-green-leafy-vegetables/
  9. Office of dietary supplements - vitamin K. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Accessed August 25, 2023. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminK-HealthProfessional/.
  10. Spinach, raw. FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168462/nutrients. Published April 1, 2019. Accessed August 3, 2023.
  11. Office of dietary supplements – vitamin A. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Accessed August 25, 2023. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/
  12. Kale, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169238/nutrients. Published April 1, 2019. Accessed August 3, 2023.
  13. Cabbage, chinese (pak-choi), raw. FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170390/nutrients. Published April 1, 2019. Accessed August 3, 2023.

Authors

Graham Morris

NatureMade Copywriter

Graham has a degree in film with a focus on screenwriting from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He enjoys learning new things and finding the best, most engaging way to communicate them to a wide audience. Graham appreciates simplicity in life and nutrition, and wants to find the easiest, no-stress ways to stay healthy.

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Kalyn Williams, RDN

Science and Health Educator

Kalyn is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist and a Science & Health Educator with the Medical and Scientific Communications team at Pharmavite. Her experience in the field of nutrition prior to joining Pharmavite has included community and public health education, media dietetics, and clinical practice in the areas of disordered eating, diabetes, women’s health, and general wellness. Kalyn received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona, and completed her dietetic supervised practice in Maricopa County, AZ, with an emphasis on public health. Kalyn is certified in Integrative and Functional Nutrition through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, where she is an active member in addition to memberships in Dietitians in Functional Medicine, Women’s Health Dietitians, and the International Federation of Eating Disorder Dietitians.

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