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Food has different colors. Each color indicates a series of properties. The more colorful the plate, the better, since you will be consuming more phytonutrients or phytochemicals. What are they? Substances of plant origin that lack specific nutritional value, but whose consumption, according to the most current research, represents an enormous health benefit.
In particular, the more than 25,000 different phytonutrients identified to date can be grouped into five categories based on their color and the characteristics of the benefits they are associated with. Today we will review the benefits of red foods.
Red foods have lycopenes as the best known phytonutrients, although there are other less known ones such as ellagic acid. Included in this group are foods such as tomato, raspberry, watermelon, apples and cranberries, radishes, and, curiously, despite their different color, walnuts.
- Antioxidants: All these foods have antioxidants, that is, they stop the action of free radicals. Free radicals can appear as a result of cellular metabolism, among other origins, and their excess attacks cell membranes and can cause damage to the genetic material of the cell. They are also the cause of premature cellular aging and increase the risk of degenerative and cardiovascular diseases and even some types of cancer.
- Good for the bones: Lycopenes promote proper ossification, so important during pregnancy, childhood and adolescence. By attacking free radicals, lycopenes help maintain the correct balance between loss and gain of bone mass, helping bones to grow healthy and strong.
- Good for the skin: Lycopenes also protect the skin from the sun, on the one hand an ally for the synthesis of vitamin D, and on the other hand, a precursor to problems such as skin cancer or melanomas. In particular, recent research attributes to the lycopene present in tomatoes, an increase of around 35% in internal protection against sunburn. In this case, cooking facilitates the release of lycopene, tripling its availability with respect to raw tomato. In addition, being a fat-soluble compound, its combination with olive oil further facilitates the absorption process, at the same time that it provides fatty acids with innumerable benefits for the body.
The sun, in small doses, favors the synthesis of vitamin D in the body, responsible for maintaining the balance between calcium and phosphorus in the body, related to the strength of the bones, in addition to promoting the absorption of minerals such as iron, zinc or magnesium.
Children tend to be a risk group with high possibilities of vitamin D deficiency, either due to the excessive use of sunscreen or having their extremities covered to avoid sun contact. The consumption of red foods that internally protect their sensitive skins from the sun's ultraviolet radiation can be beneficial, since it would allow, at times when the sun is less harmful, to minimize the use of sunscreen and allow the skin itself to synthesize this such an important vitamin, instead of having to resort to the administration of pharmaceutical preparations. Obviously, you always have to take extreme precautions and choose the most favorable hours, those in which the sun is milder.
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