Red hot for fruit

Amanda
Amanda O'Brien
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An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but it’s not just this red fruit that is packed with nutrition and health-promoting benefits. Strawberries, cherries, raspberries, watermelon, grapes and grapefruit are super healthful and can be sweet for your loved one on Valentine’s day.

Cherries are a good source of fibre, potassium and vitamin C. They are an antioxidant-rich fruit, and high in anthocyanins, the same anti-inflammation and disease-fighting chemicals found in blueberries and red wine.

Eating cherries is linked to a reduced risk for arthritis and gout, promotion of heart health and, most recently, aiding muscles to recover and decrease stress in athletes. Although still early, recent research is even linking tart cherry juice to improvements in sleep and sleep patterns. Many of the benefits of cherries are due to the antioxidants giving it its bright red colour.

Raspberries, like cherries, are also high in fibre, vitamin C and anthocyanins. Similar to  strawberries, raspberries are high in an antioxidant called ellagic acid. This antioxidant appears to have some anti-cancer properties and be able to reduce heart disease.

Despite the popularity of raspberry ketone extract supplements, eating whole berries has been shown in scientific studies to be more beneficial than taking the individual health-promoting chemicals in the form of dietary supplements.

Strawberries. Just eight of these berries have more vitamin C than an orange and are packed with beneficial antioxidants and nutrients, including potassium, folate and fibre. These sometimes heart-shaped berries increase blood levels of the above noted nutrients, but also lower markers of cardiovascular disease. They help to reduce total and bad cholesterol, and inflammation, and contribute to a heart-healthy lifestyle. Strawberries also contain the B vitamin folate and ellagic acid, both of which have been associated with the reduced risk of several cancers.

Red grapes. One cup provides one-fourth of the daily recommendations for vitamins C and K. Grapes are actually a berry, and the seeds are edible, too. Like all other fruits on this list, they are full of disease-fighting, health-promoting antioxidants.

Some chemicals found in grape extract (called proanthocyanidins) and in grape skins (resveratrol) are currently being studied for possible uses in the prevention and treatment of cancer and other illnesses. These chemicals are one of the main reasons red wine has such a good rep for being healthy.

Pink and red grapefruits. Just one-half of this fruit delivers over 100 per cent of the vitamin C and 35 per cent of the vitamin D needed for one day. It’s also a rich source of lycopene, an antioxidant found in mostly bright red fruits and veggies, most famous for promoting health of the prostate, and the reduction of cancer risk. Lycopene is also noted to decrease the risk of heart disease by reducing bad cholesterol, as well as the risk of macular degeneration.

Watermelon is a very low calorie fruit, with only 30 calories per 100 gram serving. Rich in lycopene, it has many of the same noted benefits as coloured grapefruit.

To incorporate fruits into your Valentine’s Day, add fresh fruits to a breakfast-in-bed platter, try frozen berries in your wine or champagne glass, give chocolate-dipped fruits or sweets topped with fruits as a treat or try fruits as part of a homemade romantic dinner entree. In addition,  there’s also pomegranates, cranberries, partridgeberries, rhubarb, tomatoes, red peppers, beets, radishes, cayenne pepper, red cabbage, etc. The colour of red is in, not only for Friday, but to promote health as well.

Amanda O’Brien is a registered dietitian

in St. John’s. Contact her through the website: www.recipeforhealth.ca.

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