The health benefits of antioxidants are most obvious in red food. Especially now that we’re getting older it’s important to look carefully at what we eat. We emphasize variety. The health benefits of antioxidants also get extra attention.
More in general our health is an important drive to pay more attention to our food. Tom had a couple of fierce gout attacks years ago and has kept a purine-free diet ever since. I have a tendency for arthritis, so I avoid among other things the use of salt and alcohol.
I always thought that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach was a funny expression. But I admit, Tom cares more about good-tasting food than I do. Although we both value the contribution to our health of the food we eat.
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The health benefits of antioxidants
Red food is loaded with antioxidants that are extremely good for our health. Among other things, it is said that antioxidants lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol.
Red is our favorite color
Tom and I once went to a seminar about humour. I never had guessed that humour is such a serious matter. Many people usually like the same types of humour. This is because we design concepts that we hold to be true and which help us to understand the world we live in.
This idea was illustrated with several questions we had to answer. The first question was: What is your favourite number? 3 and 7 were the most common numbers. The second question was: What is your favourite animal? No surprises with the animals. The big furry cats were absolute favourites.
Of course, we were asked to name our favourite colour. Most people present answered: RED. With my background as an artist and photographer, colour mainly interests me as part of a piece of art or a picture. However, once I dived into colour as a part of nutrients a whole new world opened up for me.
The significance of antioxidants and free radicals
For Tom and me, red food is one of our favourites. This is because red fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants. Antioxidants are essential for our health.
However, antioxidants are a complex physical compound. They control the free radicals that can damage our cells. In their turn, free radicals are important for all kinds of chemical processes that keep the body going.
Our health is in good condition when antioxidants and free radicals are in balance. Although food is an important source of antioxidants, too many antioxidants can have a reverse effect when we age.
Red food contains loads of antioxidants
- Red Currants
- Goji (one of the superfoods)
- Red apple
- Red tomatoes
- Red bell pepper
- Red cabbage
- Red chili pepper
- Red leaf lettuce
- Red onion
How to prepare a coulis
Sweet and moist fruits are excellent for preparing a coulis, a thin sauce. Strawberries, raspberries, cherries, cranberries, and pomegranates are the red fruits that we now and again prepare.
Preparation is quite simple. You heat a small saucepan at very low fire or temperature. Use a wooden spoon to carefully break the fruits. Never add sugar because the fruits are sweet enough by themselves. Although you might add some honey or maple syrup.
Always use organic fruits because they give the best taste and don’t have pesticides on them.
With most fruits, the preparation of a coulis is very easy. However, you have to remove the pips from the cherries.
The pomegranates are quite another story. They have very strong skin and many membranes inside. These membranes contain small beads that are filled with the pulp needed for the coulis.
To remove the pomegranate skin and get the beads out of the membranes is a tough and precise job. The reward, pomegranate coulis, is however more than worth it. It’s my favourite coulis.
More than just antioxidants
Each type of red food has specific health benefits. For example, cranberry juice or cranberry tea are said to prevent cystitis (a urinary tract infection).
The lycopene in watermelons decreases LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol increases the risk of a heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.
However, scientists do not always agree on the effects of food on your health. There are probably as many specialists that argue cranberry juice helps with bladder problems as others who say it doesn’t.
Which makes me a big advocate of testing food myself. Moreover, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Related: Wonderful Advantages of Watermelon, especially in a Hot Summer
List of advantages
Nevertheless, the list of claimed advantages of red food is very appealing, don’t you think?
- Reduces the risk of prostate cancer
- Protects the body from prostate, cervical and lung cancer
- Reduces tumor growth
- Protects the body from harmful free-radicals
- Protects the body against heart disease
- Lowers blood pressure
- Lowers LDL cholesterol
- Supports joint tissue for those with arthritis
- Is an aid in gastrointestinal health
Tostada con Tomate, an easy recipe
Spaniards eat 5 times a day! Around 11 a.m. with or without the sun shining, they go and sit on a terrace and have their second breakfast. Spaniards prefer hearty snacks.
When we’re out having a cup of coffee or tea, by that time, we usually adapt to their custom and eat a tostada con tomate (toast with tomato). We even like those tostadas more than the sweet pastries we used to eat in The Netherlands.
Making a tostada con tomate is really easy. And if you buy organic tomatoes and whole-wheat bread with seeds it’s even tastier than in a Spanish bar.
- 3 tomatoes
- extra virgin olive oil
Blend the tomatoes. Roast the bread in the oven. Drip oil to your liking on the bread and cover it with tomato sauce.
We usually add some fresh or dried herbs. Dried oregano tastes wonderful on a tostada. Sometimes we mix fresh basil in the tomato sauce. Real aficionados of tostada, before adding the oil and sauce, rub the cut side of half a clove of garlic across the toasted bread.
When we accidentally make too much tomato sauce, we use the excess sauce, for example, on an omelette with some dried or fresh herbs.
When you have a favourite recipe with red vegetables or fruit, please let us know in the comment box.
Enjoy your meal!
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- Healthy Food Dishes with Blue and Purple Fruits and Vegetables
6 thoughts on “Red Food and the Health Benefits of Antioxidants”
Red fruits and vegetables are another superfood, and I sometimes add them to my meals. Too much is not good, as you say, so I try to keep a good balance and I don’t overdo it. I also planted redcurrant trees on my land (3 of them) and they’re still growing, but hopefully next year one of them may be ready to bear its first fruits. They’re not that tall yet, but getting there.
The tostada con tomate sounds delicious. The recipe is simple, needs few ingredients, and you can add any herbs and spices you like. The perfect snack. Garlic is a great option. I’d also like some oregano with it, I think. I’ll make that one day 🙂 Thanks for the tip!
What is purine-free food by the way? I have never heard of that.
Is redcurrant that sour little red berry? I love those. Yummy! Our fruit trees are still small as well, but it is so lovely to see them grow, isn’t it? It is the time of the almond blossom at the moment over here in Spain. And our tree, little as it is, has beautiful flowers. Amazing, because last month I really thought the tree hadn’t survived the cold and the rain. It looked quite dead.
When someone has gout, physical processes are out of balance, allowing uric acid to precipitate in the form of crystals in the joints and in other tissues. These crystals cause joint inflammation. Uric acid is a normal waste product of the metabolism, which is made from purine.
There are certain foods that contain a lot of purine, so Tom avoids eating them. Either completely, or most of the time, depending on how much purine a food has. Like shrimps, red meat, red wine, or beer.
It’s funny. When he had a doctor’s appointment after his first attack, the man said “Ah, you are overweight, you eat too much red meat and you drink too much red wine”. Which he hadn’t. We haven’t been eating meat since our mid-20s and in those days, he drank white wine. 😉
But he was overweight and a bit careless about that. And the attacks came back. Every 2 years he couldn’t walk for 3 weeks. So after his 3rd attack, he went back to the doctor, who recommended medication for the rest of his life. Maybe you know, that we are not fans of medicine. So before turning to medication Tom first tried a purine-free diet.
That 3rd attack was in 2009 and turned out to be the final one, so far. 🙂
oh, great, thanks for clarifying. I regularly drink red wine … 😉 It’s good to know about purine, I had never heard of it.
Don’t worry, Christine. The people most at risk for gout are overweight middle-aged men. You are neither 😉
A famous example of someone suffering from gout was Henry VIII, the one with the 6 wives, remember? There is a famous painting by Holbein of him in all his glory and it was obvious by looking at him where his gout originated from!
What a helpful article. Thanks a lot! I didn’t know that there are so many advantages. I like red fruits and vegetables a lot, especially strawberries and red onion. Actually, I never met someone who doesn’t like strawberries or watermelon!
May I ask you why it’s important to use a wooden spoon when preparing a coulis? Also, are there any important side effects if I eat too many red fruits and vegetables?
Hi Petar, I am so glad you like it. To be honest, I wasn’t much of a fan of watermelon when I was younger! I had to learn to appreciate it. 🙂
It’s often better to use a wooden spoon in general. Mostly in order not to damage the metal pans, but they are also handy because they don’t get hot as metal spoons do. And lots of food is handled better with a wooden spoon than with a metal one.
The only disadvantage of wooden spoons is they take in the color of the food easily. If you – for instance – stir tomato soup, the spoon is all red. It looks as if it’s dirty then. That is not the case, the oil and dyes are absorbed immediately, but also seal the surface, as it were. It is important to clean the ladle after using it as soon as possible.
You can clean it with warm water, but I wouldn’t put it in the dishwasher. The drying process at the end of a washing cycle can warp or crack a wooden spoon.