Nutrition

Red and Green Vegetables and Fruit for Festive Flair

Last updated: Dec 01, 2014

 

In addition to decking your halls
with red and green decorations
this holiday, beautify your buffet
with great-tasting, nutrition-packed
red and green vegetables and fruit! 

Vegetables and fruits offer many nutrients that are important for health, including vitamins, minerals, and fiber. In addition, many vegetables and fruits are high in phytochemicals and antioxidants  nutrients that can help protect your health. For example, a phytochemical known as lycopene can help protect against heart disease and prostate cancer. Other phytochemicals such as anthocyanins are known to promote blood vessel health, beta carotene can help boost the immune system and promote healthy skin and bones, and lutein promotes eye and heart health. In addition to guarding against heart disease and certain cancers, antioxidants can help keep blood vessels flowing freely and protect against stroke.

For these reasons, the National Cancer Institute recommends 5 servings (or 2.5 cups total) of fruit and vegetables each day to help protect against cancer. In addition, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables of all colors to help maintain a healthy weight, lower risk of type 2 diabetes, and ensure overall health.

Red and green fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants include:

  • Apples
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cherries
  • Collard greens
  • Cranberries
  • Escarole
  • Green grapes
  • Green onions
  • Green peppers
  • Kale
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Limes
  • Mustard greens
  • Okra
  • Peas
  • Pink grapefruit
  • Pomegranate
  • Raspberries
  • Red cabbage
  • Red grapes
  • Red onions
  • Red peppers
  • Red potatoes
  • Red radishes
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Zucchini

Red fruits and vegetables rich in lycopene include:

  • Pink grapefruit
  • Tomatoes, especially cooked tomato products such as tomato paste, tomato soup, tomato and spaghetti sauces
  • Red cabbage
  • Red peppers, especially when they are cooked
  • Watermelon

Red Fruits and Vegetables rich in anthocyanins include:

  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Pomegranates
  • Raspberries
  • Red cabbage
  • Red grapes
  • Red onions
  • Strawberries

Red and green vegetables and fruits rich in beta carotene include:

  • Arugula
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cherries
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Green onions, tops only
  • Kale 
  • Peas
  • Pink grapefruit
  • Red cabbage
  • Red peppers
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomatoes
  • Dark green leafy vegetables such as romaine lettuce, collard greens, mustard greens, and turnip greens

Red and green fruits and vegetables rich in lutein include:

  • Arugula
  • Beet greens
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Collard greens
  • Green beans
  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Green peppers
  • Kale
  • Okra
  • Peas
  • Raspberries
  • Red peppers
  • Rhubarb
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnip greens
  • Zucchini

To enjoy red and green fruit and vegetables during the holidays:

  • Accentuate asparagus
    • Steam, cool, and mix chopped asparagus into salads
    • Enoy it steamed or grilled as a hot side dish
  • Be bountiful
    • Make vegetables and fruit comprise more than half your dinner plate
  • Cajole coleslaw
    • Mix in green and red apple chunks, sliced grapes, cherry tomato halves, or sliced red radishes for a sweet and savory slaw
  • Discover delicious desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth
    • Enjoy sliced strawberries with a dollop of Greek yogurt
    • Serve baked red apples sprinkled with cinnamon for a healthy dessert
  • Enjoy edamame
    • Mix it into a leafy green salad for added flavor
    • Enjoy it steamed as a side dish 
  • Focus on fruit salad
    • Green and red grapes, blood oranges, and kiwi make a delicious red and green holiday dessert
  • Go for green when snacking
    • Grapes make a healthy, refreshing holiday snack
    • Celery filled with protein-packed peanut butter can be just the boost you need after a holiday walk
    • Green broccoli dipped in hummus is a perfect snack beside the fire
  • Highlight the healthy
    • Enjoy snacking on raw red and green pepper slices dipped in hummus or fresh tomato salsa
  • Identify ideal snack combinations
    • Savor a sliced apple with peanut butter
    • Snack on celery sticks with salsa
  • Join juicy fruits with leafy greens
    • Mix cherries, raspberries, and strawberries for a colorful, sweet twist to any salad
  • Keep cool with cucumber
    • Pair cucumber slices with hummus dip for a delicious, low-fat, high-protein hors d'oeuvre
    • Top mini toasted sandwiches with crisp cucumber and serve them with a bowl of soup for a light holiday lunch
  • Load up on leafy greens
    • Salad starters can help you eat less at any meal
    • Savor steamed spinach, steamed kale, and steamed cabbage side dishes
  • Make the most of breakfast
    • Have sliced apples and oatmeal, strawberries on cold cereal, or kiwi mixed in yogurt
  • Nosh on vegetable appetizers
    • Chomp on cherry tomatoes filled with goat cheese
    • Savor sliced cucumber topped with a crabmeat/cream cheese mixture
    • oasted asparagus spears sprinkled with olive oil and cracked pepper 
  • Optimize okra
    • Include this often-overlooked vegetable in soups and stews
    • Enjoy okra with diced red pepper as a steamed or sautéed side dish
  • Pick peppers
    • Jalapeños, chilis, and cayennes can add kick to any recipe
  • Quench your thirst thoughtfully
    • Have 100% fruit juice or water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages 
  • Revel in the raw
    • Enjoy chopped green and red sweet peppers and celery for high-fiber snacks with a bit of crunch
  • Snack smart
    • Keep a bountiful bowl of bright red and green apples on hand when you need an easy go-to treat
  • Steam savory sides
    • Combine green beans or asparagus with roasted red pepper or onion slices for a side sensation
  • Tempt tastebuds
    • Enjoy dark leafy greens topped with a zingy heart-healthy olive oil and lemon dressing
  • Unlock the unexpected
    • Roast Brussels sprouts and beets sprinkled with herbs de Provence and olive oil for a tender, delicious side dish
  • Validate veggies
    • Mix dark green kale, escarole, spinach, dried cranberries, and pomegranate seeds and toss them in a light and tangy olive oil, lime juice, garlic, and pepper dressing
  • Wash fresh fruit and vegetables in clean, cold water and use a vegetable brush for tough-skinned apples, beets, and zucchini
  • X out the high-fat, high-calorie foods from most of your meals
  • Yield to variety
    • Include a mix of healthy vegetables and fruits in your daily diet
  • Zero in on zucchini
    • Dip raw, chopped zucchini in hummus as an hors d'oeuvre
    • Steamed zucchini and onion or red and green pepper slices for a quick, low-calorie, nutritious side dish

 

 

References

1. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Antioxidants. http://www.eatright.org/public/content.aspx?id=6792 Accessed December 1, 2014.
2. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2010.asp Accessed December 1, 2014.
3. Fruit and Veggies More Matters. What are Phytochemicals? http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/what-are-phytochemicals Accessed December 1, 2014.
4. Produce for Better Health Foundation. Frequently Asked Questions. http://www.pbhfoundation.org/about/res/pic/faqs Accessed  December 1, 2014.
5. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Have a Healthy Red and Green Holiday. Alice Henneman, MS, RD. http://food.unl.edu/fnh/healthy-holiday Accessed December 1, 2014.
 

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