From Valentine’s Day to Heart Health Month, February is splashed with red.
Although chocolates may rule as a popular Valentine gift, those in the mood for a healthier treat can enjoy strawberries, cherries, raspberries, cranberries, watermelon, tomatoes and beets and reap the rewards.
These vibrant foods have a cornucopia of nutrients that love you back by healing your body and preventing disease, says best-selling author and nutritionist Cherie Calbom, known as “The Juice Lady,” whose latest book is The Juice Lady’s Guide to Fasting (www.juiceladycherie.com).
For example, numerous studies show that just one glass of beet juice lowers blood pressure in people with high blood pressure, she says. Other attributes of these red-themed fruits and vegetables include:
• Tomato juice has lycopene, a phytonutrient that studies show reduces the risk for prostate cancer. Tufts and Boston University researchers discovered that the highest intake of lycopene was linked to nearly a 30 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.
• One study published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods found that tart cherry juice can improve sleep in older adults with insomnia.
• Another study found that quercitin, a powerful antioxidant found in tart cherry juice, helped people fight heart disease by preventing oxidative damage to LDL cholesterol.
• Strawberry juice is rich in vitamin C and folate—nutrients that help you fight cancer.
• The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that the intake of raspberries can lower the risk of death from cardiovascular disease due to their high content of anthocyanins, flavonoids that reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a leading cause of heart disease.
• Watermelon has more lycopene than tomatoes—making it a delicious heart healthy fruit.
For those seeking to lose weight before Valentine’s Day, Calbom recommends a one-day red juice fast. “You can lose at least a pound a day and recharge your energy,” she says.
Heart Healthy Juice Recipes
Beets have been shown to lower blood pressure in a matter of hours. One study found that drinking one glass of beet juice lowered systolic blood pressure by an average of 4 to 5 points.
1/2 small beet with tops
1 cucumber, peeled if not organic
Cut produce to fit your juicer’s feed tube. Juice ingredients, stir and enjoy. Serves 1.
All red, orange, and green vegetables and fruit are rich in carotenoids. Studies show that carotenoids give your skin an attractive rosy glow, even more appealing than being out in the sun.
4-5 medium carrots, tops removed
1 red apple
1 medium cucumber
1 small beet, with or without a few tops
2 ribs celery
1-inch chunk ginger root
Juice all ingredients, stir and enjoy! Serves 1-2
Icy, Spicy Gazpacho
Cilantro has been shown in studies to help the body detox heavy metals such as mercury, lead and aluminum.
2 tomatoes, cut in chunks
1 cup fresh carrot juice (about 5–7 carrots)
1 lemon, juiced, peeled, if putting it through a juice machine
1/4 cup cilantro, rinsed and chopped
1/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 small jalapeño, chopped (more if you like it hot)
Place the tomato chunks in a freezer bag and freeze until solid. This is optional. (Or you can use fresh tomatoes placed in the blender.) Pour the carrot and lemon juices into a blender and add the frozen tomato chunks, cilantro, salt, cumin, jalapeño, and radishes. Blend on high speed until smooth, but slushy; serve immediately. Serves 2