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Choose red-colored food for healthy choice

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Red is the color of Valentine’s Day. Instead of treating your sweetie to a box of chocolates, serve him or her one or more healthful red-hued foods. These fruits and vegetables are guaranteed to love you both back.

Red cabbage microgreens. Microgreens are very tiny, leafy vegetables. Although small in size, they serve-up surprisingly intense flavors, vivid colors and crisp textures. Microgreens are one of the hottest culinary trends served as either an edible garnish or salad ingredient. Red cabbage microgreens boast eye-catching red leaves and stems that make them an artful and appetizing topping for a dish such as fresh salmon ceviche.

Last year, researchers at the University of Maryland conducted a nutrient analysis of 25 commercially available microgreens to see if they were as nutritious as they were delicious. They discovered that these greens varied widely in the amount of nutrients such as vitamin C, as well as disease-preventing phytonutrients such as carotenoids and tocopherols. However, red cabbage microgreens topped the list for highest concentration of these nutrients, followed in descending order by cilantro, garnet amaranth and green daikon radish. This information makes red cabbage and othermicrogreens a good way to add good taste and good health to a Valentine’s Day dish.

Tomatoes. Once thought to possess aphrodisiacal powers and thus termed pomme d’amour or love apples by the French, tomatoes are a versatile fruit that eats like a vegetable in salads, soups and sauces. There are lots of varieties to choose from: vine-ripe, beefsteak, cherry, grape, plum, heirloom and more. The one feature they all have in common is a lycopene, a phytonutrient that gives tomatoes their red color. In addition to your heart, Finnish scientists have discovered that eating tomatoes can be good for your brain, especially when it comes to stroke prevention. Researchers looked at blood levels of lycopene in 1,000 men and found that those with the highest levels had a 55 percent reduced risk of stroke compared to those with the lowest levels. How about a fresh ‘love apple’ salsa over grilled fish for your honey this Valentine’s Day?

Strawberries. What could be more romantic than long-stem strawberries dipped in chocolate. While chocolate, especially dark chocolate, offers heart-healthy benefits due to its rich antioxidant content, strawberries themselves can help keep your mind and memories sharp.

This was the bottom line result of research conducted last year by scientists in Boston, Mass. The researchers looked at more than 20 years of data from the nearly 17,000 women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study and found that those women who ate the greatest amount of strawberries, as well as blueberries, delayed their cognitive aging or memory loss by 2 ½ years. A higher intake of flavonoids, phytonutrients found in berries, was thought to be the chief reason for this brain boost.
Other good food sources of flavonoids include citrus fruits, red skinned onions, parsley, white and green tea – and, appropriately in this case – dark chocolate.

Red grapes. If you fancy hand feeding grapes, one by one, to your reclining sweetie, make sure they’re red grapes. Red grapes are a potent source of resveratrol, a phytonutrient found in the skins of the grapes as well as in other fruits and nuts. A recent study by researchers in Arkansas discovered that resveratrol is a potent preventative against neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.

Pomegranate. Phytonutrients such as polyphenols found in pomegranates have been linked with heart health. What’s more, researchers in Scotland found, earlier this year, that men and women between the ages of 21 and 64 who drank a glass of pomegranate juice daily for two weeks enjoyed a surge in levels of the male sex hormone, testosterone. This translated into a greater level of desire by all participants in the study. This orange-sized red fruit, which is filled with sweet-tart seeds, isn’t in season in fresh form in February, but the juice is available year-round. So, instead of wine this Valentine’s Day, pour your sweeter a glass of pomegranate juice.

Carol Bareuther is a freelance writer in St. Thomas. Comments on this story are welcome at editorial@the-triton.com.

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