Seeing red is good when it’s produce!

Why can’t strawberry season be as long as beet, carrot or potato season? Every week of summer, my daughter’s family and mine have shared a box of farm-grown produce. And I live near an apple orchard that also has acres of strawberries which you can pick or buy ready to take home to savor. We have eaten “home-grown” strawberries several times now and they have been so delicious and tender that I wish they’d go on all summer. Too soon other produce will take their place, and that wonderful strawberry fragrance will be one of the memories of summer. As a nutritionist, I love strawberries for the fragrance and taste as well as their great nutrient profile (and only 46 calories for a whole cup of berries); I can feel virtuous eating them.

On many summer weekends, many of us are likely to be feasting on another favorite red food: watermelon…. one of the richest sources of lycopene in the produce section (1 cup watermelon cubes, also 46 calories, has nearly 1.5 times the amount lycopene present in 1 cup chopped tomatoes, another red food touted for super nutrition). Lycopene, credited with reducing risk of prostate cancer, heart and lung disease, is one of the many plant chemicals that have antioxidant roles in human metabolism. Antioxidants prevent or repair cell damage from environmental pollutants, smoke, and from the normal oxygen-requiring processes of everyday living. Think of them as our internal clean-up and fix-it crew. The chemicals that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant red colors also help to keep our bodies in good repair.

So go ahead, have all the watermelon and strawberries you want….they are good for you!