Did you know that red colored vegetables are high in the antioxidants and vitamins? Here are 19 healthy red vegetables you have to try!
For decades the mantra of mothers and dietitians alike was “Eat Your Vegetables”. For many people that was hard enough, but now the advice is “Eat All the Colors of the Rainbow”.
This is great advice because by eating a wide variety of colorful vegetables, you are pretty much assured to cover the spectrum of vitamins and minerals.
Red vegetables and fruits are a key color for eating a nutritious diet. Today we are only looking at red veggies as there are enough of them to write on, so we will come back to red fruits in a later post.
Are Red Vegetables Healthy?
No doubt about it, red vegetables can be very nutritious and provide a variety of health benefits. Red vegetables get their color from pigments like lycopene and anthocyanin, both of which are beneficial antioxidants. Other key compounds found across the group include betacyanin, betalain, and carotenoids.
Red veggies are also generally low in calories, potassium rich, and have a solid vitamin and micronutrient content. Adopting a healthy diet focusing on a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables can clearly aid in lowering blood pressure, amping up your immune system, and likely weight loss.
Nutritional Information for Popular Red Vegetables
Here are a few common red vegetables and their nutritional benefits (per a 100g, 3.5 oz serving). Vitamin values are the % of your RDA, and fiber values are in grams.
|Calories||Fiber||Vit. C||Vit. A|
|Red Kuri Squash||34||1.5||20||213|
Which of these red vegetables has the fewest calories? (scroll to the end of this post for the answer!)
Types of Red Vegetables
- Red Carrot
- Cayenne Peppers
- Cherry Pepper
- Kidney Beans
- Oak Leaf Lettuce
- Red Bell Pepper
- Red Bliss Potato
- Red Cabbage
- Red Gold Potato
- Red Russian Kale
- Red Kuri Squash
- Red Onions
- Red Warty Thing Squash
Amaranth leaves are native to Mexico and South America, and were a staple for the Aztecs and other ancient people. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, and are mild and tender when young but become increasingly bitter as they age. You can add them to salads or soups.
You can find beets at your grocery yearround, but they’re best in the winter. Select beets with smooth, undamaged roots and crisp, green leaves. The smaller they are, the sweeter they are. There are several beet varieties commonly used in the USA:
- Red Beets: Range from bitter to very sweet
- Golden: Less sweet, but also less earthy
- Chioggia: A red and white striped Italian beet that is great sliced into salads
- Baby: These are just beets harvested before they are fully grown. They are very sweet and are often served with their green leaves
- Sugar Beets: These are processed into table sugar rather than using them as a vegetable.
We know that beets are often not people’s go to veggie, so we worked up some well tested recipes ranging from sweet to savory. Just trust us on those two smoothie recipes – decadent and nutritious.
- Roasted Beet and Radish Salad
- Butternut Beet and Ricotta Galette
- Red Velvet Smoothie Bowl
- Beet Pesto Pizza with Goat Cheese and Kale
- Pink Power Beet Smoothie
Carrots are, of course, traditionally orange, but why is that? Technically it is the beta-carotene in them that gives them their orange hues, but they became so due to a 17th Century Dutch patriot agriculturist. He crossbred a variety of carrots until he perfected the orange carrot that we know today. Why? Because the national color of Holland was, and is today, Orange. So, red carrots really aren’t such an anomaly. You aren’t going to find red carrots at your local grocery, but perhaps in specialty markets or you can grow your own. They are a winter plant that despite their red color are still very high in vitamin A, and red carrots are sweeter than their orange cousins.
We are including cayenne peppers as the counter to non-spicy bell peppers (and limiting this list at just a few types of peppers, because most of them are red and there’s more to the world of red vegetables than just peppers!). They are burn your mouth raw hot, but even at that they are far from the hottest red peppers. The Dragon’s Breath peppers are measured to be 50 times hotter.
Cayenne peppers are usually red or green, and popular throughout North and South America. They are most commonly ground into a dried spice or into chili flakes which is the form you will likely find them in at the grocery. Most hot sauces sold in the United States use cayenne pepper.
Okay, we could fill this post with nothing but varieties of red chili peppers, but instead we will make these little cuties the last red pepper we list. Cherry peppers are a sweet pepper variety with a good bit of spicy kick. They are one of the best pickling peppers, and often used as a condiment that way. These have a Shiller Heat Unit score that ranges between 2,500 – 5,000. So what does that mean? Well, that puts cherry peppers on the same level of spiciness as jalapeños.
Kidney Beans or Red Beans are pretty much a world-wide favorite used in so many chili and taco recipes, but these versatile beans are great in so many other ways. Consider them in other forms of cuisine like our Coconut Kidney Bean Curry or Spanish Rice and Beans. These beans derive 20% of their calories from protein, are a great source of fiber, and have a commendable vitamin and micro nutrient profile. And when you need a feel-good food on cold days, put a can or two into this simple yet Award-Winning Taco Soup.
Oak Leaf Lettuce
This is a butter lettuce variety that is typically green or red. It is popular as it is easy to grow at home, and can be grown in a pot on an apartment balcony. The leaves are tender and fairly sweet. As with other butter lettuce varieties, this is a great raw component for any salad or sandwich topping. They would compliment these Vegan Lettuce Wraps well. There are many other varieties of red lettuce you can easily find. They add a bit of color to your salad and sacrifice nothing nutritionally as a replacement for green lettuce.
Radicchio is a dark purple or red vegetable often mistakenly called a variety of lettuce though it is actually an endive. It tastes much different than lettuce as well as it is quite bitter. Radicchio is often used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. It is sometimes used raw in salads, but more often cooked into recipes to include pastas and soups. For more on radicchio varieties and how to select, cut, store, and remove the bitterness check out our Radicchio 101 Guide.
Radishes appear to have originated somewhere in Asia likely over 3,000 years ago. They are a member of the mustard family and are today grown worldwide. Radishes are a low-calorie root that is normally eaten raw, but that isn’t a hard rule.
Red Bell Pepper
Bell peppers are the only peppers that score a zero on the Shiller Heat Unit scale. This simply means that they aren’t spicy at all. Still they are one of America’s favorites in all manner of cuisine (I don’t think I would even consider eating fajitas without bell peppers). Bell peppers are native to Mexico and Central America, but China is today the world’s leading producer of bell peppers.
Red Bliss Potato
Red Bliss have a dark red skin, but white flesh. They are a low starch waxy potato that boils well, and are often used in potato salads. Their moist flesh (typical for waxy potatoes) ensures they keep their shape well when cooked. Many growers harvest them young as new potatoes. For more on spuds check out our potato 101 guide.
Red cabbage originated in Germany in the 16th Century, and is still popular in German salads and as a side dish. In the United States the two most common uses are in coleslaw and in salads. If you are into canning try this easy homemade Pickled Red Cabbage Recipe. If you want to try a unique, healthy, and decadent treat try this simple Berry Cabbage Smoothie. You just have to trust us on this one. It is both delicious and nutritious.
Red Gold Potato
The Red gold is an all-purpose potato developed in Canada in the 1970s. They are medium-sized potatoes with a red skin and golden flesh. They are great baked, boiled, roasted, or mashed.
Red Russian Kale
Also known just as Red Kale or Scarlet Kale, this variety is similar to curly kale except with a red color. It is a good kale to eat raw in salads or on sandwiches as it is often considered to be the sweetest kale variety. Red kale doesn’t hold up well in cooking, but some cooks swear by it for sautéing. You probably won’t find red kale at your grocery, but check your local farmer’s market or consider growing it yourself. If you want to know more about other kale varieties, how to select, cut, store, and more check out our kale 101 Guide. Kale is crazy nutritious, so if you have been considering adding more to your diet here are a few or our favorite uses:
Red Kuri Squash
Red Kuri Squash are shaped like onions, and have deep red-orange skins. You can use red kuri in your squash recipes like you would most other squash, but its size and appearance make it an ideal substitute in this Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe.
Red onions have a sweet mild flavor. They are commonly put on restaurant burgers, are great on salads, sandwiches, soups, and wraps. You can saute them for veggie fajitas, roast them with Mediterranean veggies, pretty much anything. If you are using them in fajitas or other Mexican cuisine, don’t forget to also dice some into a healthy guacamole recipe. Red onions are also one of the most commonly pickled onions. If you haven’t tried this before, don’t be afraid to give pickling red onions at home a try.
Red Warty Thing Squash
The Red Warty Thing Squash looks like it was aptly named. It has a misshapen appearance and a very hard skin which is great for preserving them over time, but not great for cutting. It is a variant of the Red Hubbard squash, thus the lumpy outer skin. The flesh of these squash, however, is said to have a pleasant sweet taste. The simplest way to use this squash is to cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, pour a bit of water where the seeds came from, cover it in saran wrap, and microwave it until soft. You can then scoop out the flesh for wonderfully sweet mashed squash.
We often hear people say that tomatoes are fruits or bell peppers are fruits, and they are right on both accounts. Rhubarb is an oddity in that many people who haven’t harvested the plant think of it as a fruit. This is reasonable enough as some of its best uses are in strawberry-rhubarb pie, rhubarb muffins, and other desserts. Rhubarb is, however, very much a veggie.
Tomatoes began as a wild plant in the Andes Mountains, but are now one of the world’s favorite foods grown on all continents (save Antarctica) and in hundreds of varieties (see Types of Tomatoes: Which is Best?). There are probably thousands of tomato varieties, but here are a few of the most common varieties of tomatoes sold in the USA:
- Cherry Tomatoes (mini tomatoes)
- Standard Globe Tomatoes (regular-sized slicer tomatoes)
- Beefsteak Tomatoes (large slicer tomatoes)
- Roma Tomatoes (paste tomatoes)
The Answer is A – radishes have the fewest calories from that list of red vegetables.