Red potatoes get their rosy skin color from an antioxidant called anthocyanidin, while red peppers are bright red from the antioxidant, lycopene. But rather than choosing your veggies by their chemical content, select them from the variety of red shades available. When you choose in that way, you follow the guidelines of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in their “Eat Your Colors” campaign.
Choose the brightest-colored vegetables for the best flavors. Vegetables get their color from a combination of their genes and the environment — tomatoes grown in poor soil without enough sun may end up as pale and less tasty versions of what they might have been.
Red on the inside and out, beets, tomatoes, red bell peppers and red chili peppers are all readily available in any grocery. They make your dinner plate pop with color and flavor. Red carrots, specifically the variety called “Atomic Red,” are a bit harder to find; they gets their color from lycopene and have an intense flavor.
Use beets instead of red food coloring to add intense red color, and a dose of lycopene, to red velvet cake.
Radishes, red potatoes and red onions get their skin color from the same antioxidant, anthocyanidin. Red corn, the kernels of which are dark red at the top and light yellow on the bottom, is a type of sweet corn. Like the other red-on-the-outside vegetables, red corn contains anthocyanidin, and has 350 percent more of the antioxidant than yellow corn, according to the Specialty Produce website.
If you want to grow your own colorful veggies, look for the “Rainbow” carrot variety, which grows in assorted colors. Or, buy carrot seed packets that come with seeds from different-colored varieties.
Although color perception changes from person to person, you might classify some of the purplish-red vegetables into the red category. These include red cabbage and a few lettuces, such as red leaf lettuce, with reddish-purple leaf tips; and radicchio, a chicory lettuce that has dark reddish-purple leaves with white ribs.