19 Whole Foods That Start With R

Looking for an extensive list of whole foods that start with the letter R? 

Look no further, we’ve got you covered!

Browse this list of 19 foods that start with R to get some new cooking inspiration, learn more about where each food comes from, and understand the health benefits of each food.

Let’s dive in!

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Raw rabbit meat on a black platter with white background

1. Rabbit

Although not very popular in the United States, rabbit is considered a delicacy in France and other European countries (1). 

People who’ve eaten rabbit often say it tastes like chicken, but gamier and more intense.

It is a very lean meat, with only 3 grams of fat per 3-ounce serving, and provides more than double the recommended amount of vitamin B12 (2).

Purchase rabbit meat online here, or look for it at your local butcher shops and farmers’ markets. 

You can use rabbit in just about any recipe that calls for chicken, but it is especially delicious when roasted, stewed, or braised.

Two heads of radicchio on white background, one cut in half lengthwise

2. Radicchio

Radicchio is a type of chicory — a bitter, leafy vegetable — that looks similar to a head of red cabbage but slightly smaller with thinner, less waxy leaves.

It is especially popular in Italy, where it is known for its strong bitter flavor that mellows out and becomes sweeter with cooking (3).

Radicchio’s red wine-colored leaves are incredibly rich in anthocyanins, a type of plant pigment (responsible for red, blue, and purple colors) with antioxidant properties (4). 

You can find this vegetable in the produce section of most grocery stores, either whole or pre-cut in bagged salad blends.

Try using radicchio in salads and slaws, or slice into quarters, brush with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and roast or grill until cooked.

Bundle of  bright fresh organic radishes with leaves on blue rustic table

3. Radish

The radish is a root vegetable belonging to the Brassica (cruciferous) family, which also includes broccoli, turnips, and kale (5).

Some types include Daikon and watermelon radishes, although red radishes are the most common in the United States.

Red radishes are about the size of a ping pong ball and have bright red skin with white flesh, known for their crisp texture and peppery flavor that sweetens as it cooks.

One cup of radishes provides 2 grams (7% DV) of fiber, 17 mg (19% DV) of vitamin C, and 268 mg (6% DV) of potassium (6, 7).

Red radishes are available at most grocery stores, while Daikon radishes and watermelon radishes can be found at Asian markets, farmers’ markets, and health food stores.

Add raw thinly sliced radish to salads and pickled or fermented vegetables, or slice in half, toss with oil and seasonings, and roast for a tasty side dish.

Fresh rambutan fruit on wooden table background

4. Rambutan

Rambutan is a tropical fruit that originated in Southeast Asia and belongs to the Sapindaceae family, which also includes lychee and longan (8, 9, 10).

This unique fruit is about the size of a golf ball and has bright red skin with hair-like spikes that transform from bright green to red as it ripens. 

The skin can be peeled to reveal the translucent white flesh, which contains a single brown (inedible) seed. The fruit tastes sweet and juicy and has a mild flavor that has been compared to both grapes and strawberries.

One cup of canned rambutan provides small amounts of many nutrients, including fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and niacin (11).

Fresh rambutan is available at some specialty produce stores, while canned rambutan in syrup can be purchased from Asian food markets and online.

It’s most often enjoyed on its own as a snack, but you can also add rambutan to fruit salads or blend them into smoothies and beverages.

Organic ramps on a white background

5. Ramps

Ramps (Allium tricoccum) — a relative of onions and leeks — are native to the eastern Appalachian mountains in the United States (12).

They look like a cross between scallions and leeks, with broad green (edible) leaves, burgundy-colored stems, and a small white bulb at the end.

In many areas, ramps are prized for their pungent onion-garlic flavor and tend to be relatively expensive due to their short growing season and limited supply.

Not only are they delicious, ramps are also high in quercetin and kaempferol — two flavonoids known for their antioxidant properties (12, 13, 14).

Ramps can be purchased at some specialty produce stores and farmers’ markets, mainly in eastern states where they are typically foraged.

Enjoy ramps sautéed in olive oil as a side dish, or add them to pestos, pastas, scrambled eggs, and rice dishes.

Pile of ripe raspberries on a white background.

6. Raspberry

Raspberries are the edible fruit of a shrub belonging to the Rose family that grows throughout Europe, Asia, and North America (15).

Although red raspberries are the most common, there are many other varieties, including black, purple, golden, and yellow.

Regardless of the variety, most raspberries have a similar sweet-tart flavor and delicate texture that seems to melt in your mouth.

Raspberries are one of the best fruit sources of fiber, with 10 grams per cup, and also provide nearly half of the daily value for vitamin C (7, 16). 

Fresh raspberries are available year-round at grocery stores but tend to be cheaper in the summer when they’re in season. 

There are lots of delicious ways to enjoy raspberries — use them as a topping for yogurt and oatmeal, or add them to smoothies and salads.

Overhead shot of uncoooked red beans in a wooden bowl

7. Red bean

Red beans (also called small red beans) are a type of bean commonly used in Mexican and Creole cuisine.

Don’t get them confused with adzuki beans, which look similar and are also sometimes referred to as “red beans.”

You can tell them apart by looking at the bean’s hilum, the white-colored ridge where the bean was once connected to the pod. Small red beans have a shorter, less prominent hilum than adzuki beans.

Like most beans, small red beans are very nutrient dense — a one cup serving provides 10 grams of fiber, 81 mg (6% DV) of calcium, 3 mg (17% DV) of iron, 81 mg (19% DV) of magnesium, and 5 mg (45% DV) of zinc (7, 17)

They can be purchased dried or canned (labeled as “small red beans”) at most grocery stores and Latin food markets.

Use them to make Louisiana-style red beans and rice with andouille sausage and other Creole dishes, or add them to your favorite soups and chilis.

Pile of fresh rhubarb stalks on a wooden cutting board

8. Rhubarb

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is a common garden vegetable grown throughout North America and Europe (18).

It looks similar to celery, with thick stalks that range in color from dark red to pink to pale green stalks and have a sweet-tart flavor.

The dark green leaves typically aren’t eaten, because they can have toxic effects when consumed in large quantities, possibly due to their high oxalic acid content (18, 19). 

One cup of raw rhubarb (122 grams) provides 2 grams (7% DV) of fiber, 36 mcg (30% DV) of vitamin K, 105 mg (8% DV) of calcium, and 10 mg (13% DV) of vitamin C (7, 20).

Look for fresh rhubarb at farmers’ markets and specialty produce stores. Many grocery stores also carry frozen or canned rhubarb and rhubarb products (pie fillings, jams, etc.).

Rhubarb is best enjoyed cooked and sweetened with sugar to balance out the sour taste. It pairs well with strawberries and can be used to make sauces, jams, compotes, fruit crisps, and other desserts.

Wooden scoops with different types of rice on them on white background

9. Rice

Rice (Oryza sativa) is a gluten-free grain and a staple food for more than half of the world’s population, especially in Asia, the Middle East, the West Indies, and Latin America (21).

There are many different varieties of rice (arborio, jasmine, basmati, etc.), which are categorized based on their shape (short, medium, or long-grain) and method of processing (white or brown).

Brown rice contains more fiber and minerals, but white rice (processed to remove the bran and germ) is enriched with higher amounts of B vitamins and iron (22, 23, 24).

Most grocery stores carry several varieties of rice, but Asian food markets tend to have more options and a better selection of rice products (rice noodles, rice paper, etc.).

Try adding rice to soups and salads, stir-fries, and desserts (like rice pudding), or simply enjoy as a side dish with vegetables and meat, fish, or tofu.

Homemade ricotta cheese on a white platter over a bed of arugula

10. Ricotta

Ricotta is an Italian cheese byproduct made from the whey leftover from making other cheeses such as mozzarella and provolone (25).

In the United States, most ricotta comes from cow’s milk whey that has been acidified (either by fermentation or the addition of an acid such as vinegar), then heated to form curds.

The finished product has a creamy, slightly grainy texture and a very mild, sweet milky flavor that pairs well with pasta.

A single 1/4 cup serving of whole milk ricotta offers 5 grams of protein, 7 grams of fat, 145 mg (11% DV) of calcium, and 105 mg (8% DV) of phosphorus (26).

Ricotta is widely available, and most grocery stores carry both part-skim and whole milk versions. 

Fresh ricotta can be used in lasagna and stuffed pasta, such as ravioli and manicotti, or try mixing it with eggs and parmesan cheese, then baking to make a tasty dip.

Also keep an eye out for ricotta salata – a semi-firm cheese made from salted, pressed, aged ricotta cheese. It has a texture similar to feta with a nice salty kick.

Two cooked filets of rockfish in a white bowl on a wooden background

11. Rockfish

Rockfish is a generic term for fish belonging to the genus Sebastes, which includes more than 100 species worldwide (27).

They can often be found hiding among the rocks (hence the name) and can live exceptionally long lives, up to 150 years (28).

In the United States, some of the most common species are Pacific rockfish (also called Pacific Ocean perch) and yelloweye rockfish, found mainly along the West Coast (28, 29).

This fish is very low in fat, with only 1.4 grams per 3-ounce serving, and provides more than 100% of the daily value for selenium, a mineral needed for proper thyroid functioning (7, 30, 31).

The availability of rockfish varies depending on your location — check your local grocery store or fish market. Whole, frozen rockfish can also be found at some Asian food markets.

Rockfish has a light texture and a mild, sweet taste, making it a very versatile ingredient that can be used in ceviche, bouillabaisse, and fish tacos, or simply pan-fried and topped with sauce.

Six red rocoto chile peppers on a white background

12. Rocoto chile

The rocoto chile (also known as locoto chile), grown throughout Central and South America, is thought to be one of the oldest pepper varieties still being cultivated today.

It looks like a cross between a bell pepper and a roma tomato, with round, black seeds and thick, meaty flesh that ranges in color from red to orange or yellow. 

Rocoto chiles are considered medium-hot peppers, measuring 30,000-100,000 SHU on the Scoville scale, a system that evaluates the spiciness of peppers and other foods (32). For reference, jalapenos range from 2,500 to 8,000 SHU (33).

Check Latin markets for fresh chiles and chile paste, which can also be purchased online. Unlike other peppers, rocoto chiles usually aren’t available dried.

The peppers can be diced and tossed into salsa, sauces, soups, stews, and chilis, or stuffed and baked with meat and cheese.

Black and red caviar (roe) in bowls on a white background

13. Roe

Roe is a general word for the fully ripened, unfertilized eggs from fish and certain other marine animals. 

Caviar is a very expensive, luxurious type of roe that is harvested exclusively from the sturgeon family of fish (34).

Another popular type is tobiko, a bright orange roe from the flying fish species, which is primarily used to make sushi (34).

Roe is an especially rich source of vitamin B12 and can provide up to 1000 milligrams of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids per tablespoon (7, 35, 36).

True caviar may be difficult to find locally but can be purchased online from reputable companies like Russ & Daughters or Petrossian, while tobiko is available at most Asian food markets.

Fresh head of Romaine lettuce on white background

14. Romaine lettuce

Romaine lettuce (also known as “cos lettuce”) is a popular variety of lettuce grown throughout North America.

Its outer leaves are dark green and delicate with a grassy flavor, while the pale yellow-green inside leaves are crunchy and slightly sweet.

A single one-cup serving of romaine lettuce provides 48 mcg (40% DV) of vitamin K, 2015 mcg (22% DV) of vitamin A, 64 mcg (16% DV) of folate, and only 8 calories (14).

To reduce your risk of E. coli food poisoning from contaminated romaine and other lettuces, always wash thoroughly before eating and store in a refrigerator set to 40°F or below (38).

At the grocery store, you’ll find several options for purchasing romaine — whole lettuce heads, romaine hearts (with the outer leaves removed), and bagged pre-chopped salad.

Romaine is most commonly used raw as salad greens, but it’s also sturdy enough for grilling and lettuce wraps. Some people even add it to smoothies and juices!

Pile of romanesco florets in a brown wooden bowl

15. Romanesco

Romanesco is a vegetable belonging to the Brassica (or cruciferous) family that dates back to 16th century Italy.

It is known for its light green, cone-shaped florets that form a natural fractal (a pattern that repeats itself infinitely).

Romanesco has a similar texture to cauliflower with a mild flavor that’s slightly sweeter and nuttier than both broccoli and cauliflower.

It is sometimes mistakenly called “broccoflower” because many people wrongly assume that it must be a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower.

Depending on your location, you may be able to purchase fresh or frozen romanesco at your local grocery store or farmers’ markets, especially when it’s in season in the fall.

Enjoy this unique vegetable by stir-frying or roasting with olive oil, garlic, and shredded parmesan cheese. It makes a great addition to pasta dishes and salads.

Brewed mug of rooibos tea with dried tea leaves sprinkled around on a wooden background

16. Rooibos

Rooibos (pronounced “roy-bows”) is an herbal tea made from the leaves of the Aspalathus linearis bush native to South Africa (39).

Traditionally, the green needle-like leaves are fermented after harvesting, which causes the leaves to turn red due to the oxidation of polyphenols (39).

Unfermented, green rooibos is also available — it is higher in antioxidants and has a grassy flavor similar to green tea (40).

Rooibos tea is naturally sweet and caffeine-free, with an earthy, slightly woody flavor. Unlike green or black tea, it contains very low levels of tannins (bitter compounds that impair nutrient absorption) (41).

Regularly consuming rooibos tea (6 cups per day) has been shown to improve antioxidant status and reduce LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels (42).

Purchase either loose-leaf or bagged rooibos tea at grocery stores, health food stores, or online.

Fresh bundle of rosemary sprigs tied with twine on a white background

17. Rosemary

Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) is an aromatic herb that originated from the Mediterranean region and can now be found all over the world (43).

The rosemary plant produces woody stems and short, green, pine-like needles, known for their very pungent, citrus-pine flavor.

The leaves contain many different phytochemicals, such as rosmarinic acid, with strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (43, 44).

You can find fresh rosemary in the produce section with the other herbs, while dried rosemary is found in the spice section.

Rosemary pairs well with roasted root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, etc.) and meats (like chicken and pork), and can be sprinkled on homemade breads or infused in olive oil.

Whole turnip with turnip slices in front, on a white background

18. Rutabaga

Rutabaga is a root vegetable and member of the Brassica family, thought to be a cross between cabbage and a turnip (45, 46).

The large, oval-shaped root has rough skin that ranges in color from yellow to dark purple, and dark green, edible leaves.

Its golden flesh tastes milder than a turnip, with a slightly bitter, peppery flavor that sweetens and takes on a buttery texture as it cooks.

Nutritionally, rutabagas are similar to potatoes, with 3 grams (10% DV) of fiber, 367 mg (8% DV) of potassium, and 32 mg (36% DV) of vitamin C in a single cooked cup (7, 47)

Look for them in the produce section of your local grocery store. They are often sold with a wax coating to prevent them from drying out, so don’t forget to peel before eating!

Prepare rutabagas as you would potatoes or other root vegetables — mashed with butter, roasted with olive oil, pureed into soup, or grated into salads.

Closeup of dried rye berries

19. Rye

Rye is a gluten-containing grain (closely related to wheat and barley) that is commonly used to make bread and other baked goods (48).

Light rye bread is made from white rye flour containing only the endosperm (the starchy part) of the grain, so it tends to be lower in fiber and other nutrients.

Whole grain versions include dark rye bread (made with whole rye flour) and pumpernickel bread (made with coarse ground rye berries).

Other popular rye products include rye flakes (similar to rolled oats), rye crispbread (Wasa crackers), and rye berries (the whole grain form of rye).

Rye bread can be found at most grocery stores, while other rye products are more likely to be found at health food markets or online.

One of the most popular (and delicious) uses for rye bread is Reuben sandwiches, traditionally made with corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing.

Final Thoughts

From rabbit to rye, there are plenty of delicious foods that start with the letter R.

We hope this list has inspired you to be adventurous and try some new foods, or to gain a new appreciation for some of the foods you already eat every day. 

Comment below to let us know which of these foods are your favorites, and how you use them in the kitchen!

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