Go Red for a Tasty Yet IBS-Friendly Valentine’s Day

Reap the health benefits of radiantly red, low FODMAP foods to improve your body from head to toe. This Valentine's Day, get in the holiday spirit by incorporating these must-try red foods that will leave your gut (and heart) satisfied.

Health benefits of red foods

Mother Nature is a smart gal. She assigned foods in different colors, each with unique phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals that offer health benefits. In the spirit of Valentine's Day, she designated red foods to provide heart-boosting properties to promote a healthy pumper. Specifically, red foods contain lycopene—a powerful antioxidant that may improve blood pressure, translating into a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, aneurysms, and other cardiovascular-related complications.1,2 Talk about heart-warming benefits to a lycopene-rich diet!

Along with lycopene, red foods are equally rich in other antioxidants such as anthocyanins. This mighty compound may also help decrease the risk of certain cancers such as esophageal, colon, skin, and lung.3 Research shows that this powerful nutrient may also improve learning, memory, and overall cognitive function.4 In other words, anthocyanins make it easier to remember your valentine's birthday, favorite foods, and other noteworthy facts that keep this romantic holiday smooth sailing.

How red foods help IBS

Although numerous factors contribute to IBS, its pathogenesis involves chronic low-grade inflammation that can get aggravated by certain lifestyle choices.5 However, embracing red foods provides potent nutrients that can help kick inflammation to the curb for better disease management. Specifically, anthocyanins may reduce COX-2 levels in the colon—an enzyme that contributes to the body's inflammatory response. Anthocyanins may also reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines, which tend to be elevated among patients with IBS. In fact, there is a positive association between these cytokines and gastrointestinal dysfunction. Research suggests that diets high in anthocyanins may improve the quality of life among people with IBS through decreased symptom severity and frequency.6 In other words, red foods help you spend more time with your special valentine feeling healthy all year round.

How to go red at mealtime

Get in Valentine's Day spirit by incorporating these rockin' red foods into your daily routine. Whether you prefer sweet or savory flavors, there is a color-filled option for everyone!

Tomatoes – While it's technically a fruit, it's the key ingredient of traditional pasta sauce. Simmer fresh or canned tomatoes with kale, carrots, and your favorite lean protein for an IBS-friendly dish worth serving. Or create an irresistible fresh tomato salad topped with basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Talk about simplicity at its best!

Pomegranate – While it may be tedious to open, it's an antioxidant-rich fruit that's worth the added hustle. Use the seeds as toppers to plant-based yogurt, oatmeal, salads, and more. Or enjoy your hard-earned efforts on your own! You can find many online video tutorials on the easiest and cleanest way to remove those seeds!

Red bell pepper – Get stuffed with red peppers! Use this colorful vegetable as a tasty vessel to your favorite whole grain or protein-packed mixture. Then, simply pop it in the oven, and voila!

Berries – Show your valentine your sweet side by creating a decadent berry-filled ice cream. Add berries, plant-based yogurt, and lemon juice to mix until smooth in a food processor or blender. Or make homemade chocolate-covered strawberries dipped in your favorite crunchy topping. Skip the chocolate chips and use dark baking chocolate for an easier melt.

Radicchio – Swap your same ol’ salad greens for radicchio. Its color is as bold as its flavor! But, if its slightly bitter taste is too much, add a burst of sweetness with pomegranate seeds or citrus dressing.

Red Grapes – Create a refreshing palate cleanser with frozen grapes. While great on their own, they can also get enjoyed in your favorite alcohol-free bubbly.

Blood orange – Assemble a color-filled appetizer by making a blood orange and fennel salad. Toss it with a sweet homemade vinaigrette made with maple syrup, white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and ground pepper. It's an eye-catching yet nutrient-rich way to show your meal some love.

Dragon fruit – Despite its name, this sweet fruit will make your heart melt. Create a colorful smoothie bowl topped with chia seeds, low FODMAP granola, and berries. It's a refreshing way to start the day!

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