Have you ever wondered what is responsible for making your food a certain color? Well, red fruits and vegetables are some of my favorites and I wanted to look more into what actually makes them such a beautiful, bright red color.

Anthocyanins

Anthocyanins are not only responsible for giving fruits such as strawberries, cherries, apples, and cranberries their ripe RED color, but can also give off a deep purple color as well. Blackberries, plums, purple cabbage, eggplant, and purple potatoes are a few that take on the rich purple color. Research has linked anthocyanins to the antioxidant benefits found in many berries, fruits, and vegetables.

Lycopene

Lycopene is responsible for providing a bright reddish color to peppers, tomatoes, grapefruit, watermelon and other red fruits and veggies. Although the best source of lycopene is found in tomatoes, my favorite vegetables to add to my meals are Red Peppers. Peppers are loaded with amino acids which are important in the muscle recovery process after an extreme workout. They also contain more Vitamin C than a medium orange. So add a handful of peppers to your next meal and reap the benefits of lycopene.

While our bodies do not naturally produce Lycopene, and it is not an essential nutrient, it does provide many health benefits. Some interesting research was done by Dr. Yoav Sharoni. He found that lycopene has a protective effect against UV rays relating to skin damage, which suggested a probable link between lycopene and skin cancer prevention. He went on to show that sunscreens offer external protection from  UV rays while antioxidants such as lycopene may provide an internal protection from sun damage. I found this to be one of the most amazing things, that our food can actually help prevent damage to our bodies. One more reason to Eat Clean and Natural!

*Photo Credit: http://ordinaryrecipesmadegourmet.com