All About Red Foods (From Savory to Sweet)

There is something about red food that is so striking that we are compelled to feast with our eyes long before actually tasting the food.

In fact, human color psychology suggests that the color red may stimulate our appetite in addition to capturing our attention. This is why so many restaurants in the food industry tend to leverage red colors in their branding and décor.

But why do we seem to be hardwired to pay attention to this captivating pigment?

Well, when it comes to nutrition, red fruits and veggies stand out for a pretty important reason – they are filled with phytonutrients.

Let’s discuss why naturally red foods are an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. We’ll also explore some different red recipes that we can use to impress our guests!

Why Are Some Foods Red?

‘Lycopene’ is a plant compound which gives red fruits and vegetables their characteristic color. Lycopene is a member of the carotenoid family. Carotenoids are fat soluble, that is, they are best absorbed when consumed with fats.

‘Anthocyanin’ is a water-soluble compound which can also give fruits and vegetables a red hue. It is a member of the flavonoid family and is primarily contained within the outer layer/skin of berry-like fruits.

In addition, Anthocyanin is the plant compound responsible for purple, blue, and pink foods.

What Do Red Food Do for the Body?

Both lycopene and anthocyanin are antioxidants that help the body to reverse oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is caused by free radicals inside the body and can lead to a host of health problems.

For example, high levels of oxidative stress have been linked to high cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease. It has also been linked to an increased risk of diabetes.

Red foods provide a wide array of vitamins and other nutrients required by the body to build the immune system and fight off diseases. Red foods also have an effect of lowering blood pressure.

small bowls of red food

Foods That Are Naturally Red

Knowing that naturally red foods are good for you is only half the battle, the other half is choosing the right ones for you and eating them every day! We’ve listed 6 red fruits and vegetables for you, based on the following criteria: taste, access, and nutritional value.

Red Foods: Fruits

Strawberries

Ripe strawberries are mouth-watering, juicy, sweet, and slightly tangy. Strawberries are also excellent sources of potassium, vitamin C, and folate. Looking for a fun and unique way to use strawberries? Try our recipe for red, white, and blue chocolate-dipped strawberries.

Watermelon

Watermelons are even sweeter and juicier than strawberries. Watermelon is also packed with nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium.

Red Grapes

Red grapes are sweet, juicy, and mellow in flavor. Red grapes are also packed with nutrients such as: vitamin K, thiamine, riboflavin, and vitamin B6.

Blood Orange

Blood oranges have a sweet citrus flavor that is heavily reminiscent of raspberries due to an underlying tartness.

Similar to a regular orange, blood oranges are high in dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamins such as vitamin C and vitamin A. However, unlike regular oranges, blood oranges have a strong red pigment on the interior.

Raspberries

Raspberries have a slightly sweet aftertaste but are primarily tart in nature. Raspberries contain an array of vitamins and minerals such as: calcium, manganese, vitamin K, and vitamin B6.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes have a layered flavor profile, but can generally be described as having a sweet, yet sour taste. They are a good source of vitamin e, vitamin c (if eaten raw), potassium and lots more!

If for some reason your grocery store has a shortage of real tomatoes, then a quality canned tomato is the next best option. And if you’re looking for a quality tomato paste substitute, we’ve got you covered.

red onions and red bell peppers with cilantro on cutting board

Red Foods: Vegetables

Beets

Beets have a sweet, robust and earthy flavor. Beets provide a wide range of health benefits. They are an excellent source of dietary fiber, zinc, iron, Vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium.

Red Potatoes

Cooked red potatoes have a mild, earthy, buttery flavor. They are extremely high in potassium, vitamin B6, and magnesium. The thin little skins of red potatoes provide an excellent source of nutrients. Try making these garlic mashed potatoes that use red spuds. 

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers have a bitter taste that is also very grassy. They tend to be less bitter than the other varieties. Red bell peppers are also one of the best sources of potassium and vitamin C. If you’re ready to get cooking with red bell peppers, our Chipotle fajita veggies recipe is delicious!  

Red Onion

Red onions have a spicy flavor when eaten raw in salads but become sweeter in taste when cooked. Red onions also contain vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and iron.

Kidney Beans

Kidney beans have a mild, meaty, earthy flavor. They are great sources of dietary fiber, potassium, folate, and vitamin K. Looking for a great recipe that uses kidney beans? Try our slow cooker chili.

Red Quinoa

Quinoa has a ton of health benefits. Red quinoa has an earthy, nutty, buttery taste. It is a very good source of manganese, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, and folate. One cup of red quinoa serves more than 7 grams of protein.

And before you go and say that quinoa isn’t a vegetable, let me blow your mind. Quinoa is actually a member of the beet, spinach, and chard family. Though usually prepared like a grain, Quinoa is the seed of the Chenopodium plant. The more you know, right?

Fun Red Snacks

As much as we are dedicated to including red fruits and vegetables into our diet on an everyday basis, when it comes to snacking, convenience is king. Plus, we still want to live a little. So, here are three red snacks that you can enjoy anytime, anywhere and for a reasonable price.

Betty Lou’s Fruit Bars (Strawberry)

These fruit bars leave no stone unturned when it comes to texture and flavor! They are also gluten-free, dairy-free, low in calories, vegan and made with 100% natural sweeteners.

Spread Delights Raspberry Jam

This single-serve jam snack packs a punch of sweet, tangy raspberry flavor! It’s a treat to spread on toast and croissants!

SmartSweets Red Twists Licorice Gummy Candy

Enjoy a low-sugar, gluten-free, plant-based snack that satisfies all your sugar cravings.  

penne-pomodoro-close-up

Recipes That Turn Out Red

Sometimes you just need to serve up a red dish that will live rent free in the minds of your guests. Here are three red food recipes that will be well received by friends and family alike!

Penne Pomodoro

One of our all-time favorite recipes on the site. This Pomodoro sauce is to die for. The lemon zest ricotta topping puts it over the top!

Red Velvet Cheesecake Recipe

This recipe features two layers of red velvet cheesecake sandwiched between one layer of plain cheesecake. This decadent red velvet cheesecake will have your guests RSVPing for next year’s event well in advance!

Borscht Recipe

This hearty beet-and beef-based soup is a recipe you will wish you had known about sooner. Vegan? Try this vegetarian Borscht recipe and enjoy!

Cheesy Baked Meatballs 

Smothered in a savory 20-minute easy marinara these cheesy baked meatballs are full of flavor and are keto-friendly to boot. Not on a keto diet? Serve the dish over your favorite pasta.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Pepper Soup

Warm and comforting. This soup will warm you from the inside out. A perfect meal for cold snowy days or when you really need to just throw a meal in your slow cooker and have it ready when needed.

 Sriracha Sauce Recipe

This delicious red sauce can be used as a condiment on meats, seafood, salads, and garnishes. It is made from the paste of red chili peppers, and it is the hot chilies, or red peppers, which gives it its iconic red color.

Psst… Now that you’ve learned all you need to know about red foods, check out our posts all about pink foods, all about orange food, and all about yellow foods!

tomato and cucumber salad - red foods pinterest pin

Have questions or suggestions about red foods? Leave them in the comments below. Until next time: Stay salty, and sweet 😉

Leave a Comment