It’s important to eat all the colors of the rainbow. Foods of different colors pack different nutrients. So, if you’re eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, you’re most likely getting a well-rounded and well-balanced meal of nutritious foods.
Fortunately, when it comes to orange-colored foods, you can’t go wrong in taste or health benefits. And, fall is a grand time for orange foods like winter squash, pumpkin, persimmons and sweet potato.
Orange Fruits and Vegetables
Orange foods are most known for their beta carotene content, says Wren Cahoon, MS, RDN, registered dietician nutritionist at the University of Colorado Health’s integrative medicine department. “When we consume food rich in beta carotene, the body converts that beta carotene into Vitamin A, which we need to support vision and prevent eye diseases.”
is an antioxidant, which helps reduce inflammation in the body, improve cognitive function and prevent certain cancers. “It’s very important that we get plenty of antioxidant foods in our diet,” says Cahoon. But, the benefits of orange foods, including fruits, vegetables and spices, don’t end there.
Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?
I’m guessing the first orange fruit to come to mind is an orange. But don’t forget cantaloupes, mangos
, peaches, apricots
and persimmons. While persimmons are harvested in the fall and oranges are plentiful in the wintertime, many of the others are commonly associated with summer. However, some climates allow for fruit and vegetable production all year-round, so there’s a good chance you may still see these delicious orange fruits in your supermarket aisle this week.
Orange fruits, like all fruits, are high in fiber
if eaten in their whole form as opposed to juiced. In addition to beta carotene, orange fruits such as oranges, cantaloupe and mangos are also chockful of vitamin C
. In fact, one medium orange delivers about 100 percent of your daily recommended intake. Many orange fruits, such as apricots and cantaloupe, are also rich in potassium, which helps control blood pressure.
It’s not easy NOT being green.
Orange vegetables, too, are fiber-rich if eaten and not drunk. Although some are starches, which we don’t commonly associate with low-calorie eating, such as squash and sweet potatoes, orange foods are low in calories and high in nutritional value, fiber and deliciousness. One medium sweet potato is about 105 calories, and one cup of cooked squash has 80 only calories.
And the good thing about winter squash
is you can never get bored of it because there are so many varieties. Sick of acorn squash? Try butternut, delicata or spaghetti. The other good thing about squash and carrots, another popular orange veggie, as well, is that they’re rich in potassium
. And one more benefit: eating orange vegetables can improve your skin.
Spice it up
Orange spices such as cinnamon
add taste, color and health benefits to meals in the same way orange foods do. Spices, after all, come from plants, so they carry the health benefits of those plants into their ground and aromatic form. Turmeric, for example, made from a flowering plant in India, shares the same key component as cumin
, curcumin. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that can help people reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Cahoon recommends mixing turmeric with pepper, which has piperine, a compound that helps increase the body’s absorption of curcumin.
Bright orange saffron threads are considered the most expensive spice in the world. But, after hearing about its potential benefits, you may think it’s worth the price. In addition to containing a variety of antioxidants
, it may protect against certain cancers, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as improve your mood, and also get you in the mood since studies have shown it to have aphrodisiac properties.
Shopping for orange foods
Cahoon recommends looking for freshness and avoiding any food that is molding. “When choosing a yam or sweet potato, don’t worry too much about blemishes as these can be removed later; but do avoid yams that are mushy,” she says. As for fruit, smell it. The sweeter the smell, the sweeter the flavor.
And while you can get many fruits and vegetables year-round, sticking with produce grown in season locally
means that there’s less transportation involved. Plus, Cahoon says, there’s a time element involved. Your produce starts losing its nutritional value after it’s picked, so the longer it takes to get to your table, the more nutrients can evaporate. However, that said, the American Heart Association recommends getting eight to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day – and variety is important. “You don’t need to limit yourself in the winter season to only things that are grown locally because you need that rounded nutrition,” Cahoon says.
What can you do with orange foods?
The answer is: a lot of things! Orange fruits can be eaten on their own as a snack, tossed in salads or crushed into a smoothie. As for sweet potato
, you can drizzle some olive oil on them, roast them in the oven at 450 degrees, and you’ll have a delicious and healthy side dish. Plus, cooking them helps deliver the essential nutrients more easily to your system.
, not the sweetened kind used for pies, can be used for muffins, pancakes and loaves of bread. Winter squash
and carrots, too, can be blended into a delicious soup. Need more ideas? Check out the FREE Great Pumpkin Recipe Book