Eat the rainbow: Reach for red


“Eat the rainbow” is a central nutrition message (and no, I’m not talking about those artificially colored treats, sorry!). But why is it so important? Our bodies thrive on variety, and each color in fruits and vegetables contains a unique blend of nutrients that help protect us from certain diseases and keep our body working in tip-top shape.

Throughout the day, aim to eat a rainbow of colors – red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. In this occasional series, we’ll discuss what each color of the rainbow has to offer and how you can incorporate more of these colorful foods into your routines. Today, let’s reach for red!

Red fruits and vegetables are packed with disease-fighting, health-boosting nutrients. Reach for red today! #eattherainbow #saslife Click To Tweet

An Apple a Day…

…keeps the doctor away. While eating an apple every day doesn’t actually give you a pass from routine healthcare, this age-old advice does provide some insight into the power of red foods.

Red fruits and vegetables get their radiant hue and nutritional punch from carotenoids (most notably lycopene), anthocyanins (flavonoids with great antioxidant properties) and betacyanins (strong free radical scavengers). These antioxidant activities reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and blood clots; fight infections; protect the heart, brain, liver and eyes; and so much more.

Here’s a small sample of just how powerful these foods can be:

“Eat Me!”

The color red radiates energy, evokes strong emotions, gets your heart pumping and stimulates appetite. It’s not a coincidence that so many fast-food companies have red in their logos and restaurant décor…marketing meets color psychology at its finest. 😉

Peruse the list below to reignite your passion for red and try some new ones that aren’t typically in your rotation. Remember, our bodies thrive on variety! As you reach for red fruits and vegetables, don’t forget to eat the skins whenever possible – that’s where a lot of those disease-fighting, health-boosting nutrients live!

(Hint: Click on the table below to reveal a delicious recipe for each food.)

Ruby Red Radicchio Grapefruit Salad

Makes 4 Servings
Recipe adapted from The Washington Post

If you're looking to up your intake of red fruits and veggies, this recipe has you covered!


¼ cup shelled, raw pistachios
1 head of radicchio
¼ small red onion
1 large red grapefruit
1½ Tbsp avocado or extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Toast pistachios in a small dry skillet over medium heat, tossing or stirring frequently for 3-5 minutes, or until fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Coarsely chop or tear radicchio and place in a medium-sized bowl. Thinly slice red onion into rings and add to the same bowl.
  3. Using a sharp paring knife, trim the top and bottom off the grapefruit. Stand it on one end and, cutting downward following the curve of the fruit, remove all the rind and white pith. Hold the grapefruit over the bowl with radicchio and onion and cut eat grapefruit segment from its membrane, letting the segments drop into the bowl.
  4. Squeeze any remaining juice from the grapefruit membrane into a small bowl and set aside.
  5. Measure out 1 Tablespoon of the grapefruit juice and whisk together with oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper in a small bowl. (You can reserve the remaining juice for another use.)
  6. Pour dressing over radicchio mixture and toss to coat.
  7. Top with toasted pistachios.



About Author

Ashley Bailey, MS, RDN, LDN, IFNCP


Ashley is a Nutritionist at SAS Institute in Cary, NC. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner, Certified Biofeedback Instructor and also has a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management. Outside of work, Ashley enjoys crafting, cooking, walking and spending as much time as possible at the beach. Follow @abaileyRD on Twitter.

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