From obvious red ingredients like strawberries, beetroot and raspberries to more obscure finds that don't initially come to mind when you think red fruits and vegetables: watermelons, prickly pears and radishes. Natural red foods are healthy and high in nutrients, a great source of vitamins and a perfect product for consuming those much loved antioxidants.
Red fruits and vegetables
Once strawberries were only available in summer and we waited all year for them. These days we eat them all year round, flown thousands of miles and grown in high tunnels in countries on the other side of the world. They certainly aren’t as delicious as they used to be, ripening in-season, but they’re still good. What health benefits do strawberries have? Strawberries are high in vitamins, fibre, and antioxidants, potassium and manganese. They are low in calories and are sodium-free, fat-free and cholesterol-free. Try these easy and impressive strawberry desert recipes or a healthier delicious recipe for strawberry granita.
2. Red cherries
Red cherries are probably the most suggestive fruit of them all, it’s a symbol of the sweetness of life, of the very best we can get, so perfect for Valentine’s Day. Red cherries are good for eating if you want to get more fibre, vitamins and minerals such as potassium, Vitamin A, calcium and folic acid. Try these tasty cherry desert recipes.
3. Red apples
Famously the fruit that put Snow White into a coma, the red apple is a symbol rich in meaning, representing forbidden knowledge. The most common varieties of red apple are called Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Red Granny Smith, Rome Beauty, Fuji, Jonathan, York, Gala, Idared, Pink Lady and Yellow Newton. Try these eight easy apple recipes for more than just apple pie.
4. Red peppers
Surprise! Peppers are actually a fruit. Our favourite of all the peppers is red peppers. Because of its sweetness it is very popular in the East, and you often find red peppers in Chinese food. Red peppers are good for antioxidants, Vitamin C and carotenoids. Roast them, stir-fried, backed, stuffed or pickled red peppers are always welcome. Try these quick and easy bell pepper recipes.
5. Red chilli peppers
From the same family as the bigger bell pepper, red chilies and peppers are the same thing, with just a difference in size and spiciness. The pepper is the fruit of the plant capsicum, which is a member of the nightshade family. Read 11 hot chilies and how to cook them.
Above all we a think of the tomato as a key ingredient in Italian food, but the species is actually native to South America. The Aztec word tomati led to the Spanish tomate, which in English became tomato. It’s hard to beat a bowl of tomato soup on a cold winter’s day. They are among the world’s healthiest foods, with powerful antioxidants that are believed to aid the immune system. Try these five gourmet tomato recipes.
A summer favourite, the watermelon has numerous health benefits, including helping to lower blood pressure. There are many other vitamins in watermelon such as phosphorous, magnesium, copper, calcium, iron and manganese and many people eat watermelon to lose weight. It has a subtle flavour that is unmistakeable and pairs very well with savoury foods. Try these nine watermelon recipes for summer cooking.
A feature of Middle-eastern cooking, the pomegranate is enjoying a moment. The juicy seeds can be added to virtually anything and are especially good in salads and cold dishes. The age old question of how to eat a pomegranate, or how to peel one, is answered in the below video.
Raspberries are summer fruits with a delicious tartness and beaded texture, and they are simply perfect for a summer pudding. Raspberries have many health benefits and are a good source of strong antioxidants such as Vitamin C, quercetin and gallic and ellagic acid. They have anti-cancer properties and are very good for a healthy heart. Try these four tantalising raspberry deserts.
Go beyond cranberries with turkey and instead use them as a marinade for BBQ meats, they’ll go in just about any baked cake, scone or muffin, and they’ll always go into salads and, of course, smoothies. Try these six cranberry recipes for sweet and sour cooking.
11. Prickly pear
Also known as opuntia, prickly pear is the fruit of the prickly pear cactus plant. It is often used to treat diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity and is considered good for heart health. The prickly pear is not poisonous, and all parts of the plant are edible, the fruit is sweet and juicy somewhat like watermelon. Read everything you ever needed to know about Prickly Pears here.
12. Red grapes
Red Grapes, which give us red wine, have many health benefits which include lowering blood pressure by enlarging blood vessels and protecting against diabetes. They are rich in vitamins especially C and K, have antioxidants and may protect against certain types of cancer.
There are many different plums with different colours and different meanings, but the Victoria plum is the red one. Plums are among the first domesticated fruits by humans and there are many health benefits associated with them. They are high in antioxidants and vitamins. Plums go well with meat, especially lamb and duck as well as in deserts with cream and pistachio. Try these six tempting sweet and savoury plum recipes.
14. Blood orange
The blood orange is sweeter than the regular orange and has a more intense aroma. It is widely used in the cooking of southern Italy, especially Sicily. Blood oranges are not genetically modified but a variety of the fruit. Try this citrus tart with blood orange slices recipe.
Is rhubarb a fruit or a vegetable? It’s actually a vegetable, but it’s usually cooked as a fruit and sweetened. Having fallen out of fashion in the last few years, it’s now making a comeback and has a wonderful, unique tartness that evokes memories of carefree summer days. Try this rhubarb spice cake recipe.
Radishes are very good for you and are high in Vitamins E, A, C, B6, and K as well as potassium and phosphorous, magnesium, copper, calcium, iron and manganese. It is a common misconception that radishes in Italian are radicchio, however, radicchio is chicory. Here's how to cook red radishes.
17. Red spinach
Red spinach, Amaranthus Tricolor, also known as Amaranth, is hugely popular as a health food at the moment. Rich in nutrients, the leaves can be stir-fried, and the seeds cooked as an ancient grain. Here's how to cook Amaranthus Tricolor.
18. Red onion
Red onions are best for reductions, caramelising, marmalades, jus and chutney, but they are very good eaten raw. They have a mild flavour, so they can add zing to a salad. Here's how to caramelise onions and here's more about different types of onions.
Radicchio in English is chicory, and it features a lot in Italian cooking because it adds a nice bitterness to pasta and risotto dishes. This bitterness also mellows when radicchio is grilled or roasted, making it a great side vegetable to be served with hearty grilled meats. It is cultivated in the north-east of Italy in particular.
20. Beetroot / red beets
Beetroot is packed full of vitamins and minerals, and recent research suggests that it can help protect against Alzheimer’s. Great in salads, but also slow roasted or dry aged, this root is enjoying a comeback. Here are eight recipes that big-up the beets.
Other red fruits and vegetables that you should be eating
Other red fruits and vegetables you should be eating include exotic tropical fruits such as plum, dragon fruit and rambutan, red on the outside with a light-coloured flesh similar to lychee. Another red fruit, acerola (also known as the Barbados or West Indian cherry) is a rich source of Vitamin C and is widely considered a superfood. Berries such as tangy redcurrants and lingonberries, common in northern Europe, grow on bushes and also pack a Vitamin C punch. And finally, don’t forget red alternatives to vegetable staples such as red potatoes and red cabbage. Red potatoes are lower in starch and higher in fibre than their white cousins.
Plum dragon fruit