When I was a kid, my mom would always put two small cooked carrots on my plate in the hopes I would eat them. Many a night I would sit and stare at those carrots hoping they'd magically disappear and I'd hear my mom coax, "Eat them, they're good for you." I knew she was right, and eventually I'd force them down. I didn't know how good for my health carrots and other orange foods were until I got older.
There are lots of orange foods to choose in our diets, but are you making an effort to choose them, even without mom putting them on your plate? Here are some ideas surrounding these power-packed orange-colored phytonutrients to help you make an informed and healthy choice.
Orange foods protect our immune system, our skin and our eyes and they even help reduce our risk for cancer and heart disease.
Bioflavanoids are a wonderful phytonutrient housed in orange food that work with Vitamin C to reduce our risk of heart attack and cancer. They also help improve our bone strength, our vision and keep our skin glowing. Bioflavonoids are water-soluble, so cooking them can lead to breakdown, so it’s best to eat oranges, grapefruits, clementine, peaches and tangerines raw.
Another awesome phytonutrient in orange foods is beta-carotene. Beta-carotene can turn into Vitamin A and help our bodies improve vision, cell growth, and bone health. Vitamin A also helps reduce inflammation. Beta-carotene foods require heat to liberate their carotenoids, so it’s best to cook and eat them with healthy fat like olive oil, since it will help fat-soluble carotenoid be available for gut absorption ( Institute for Functional Medicine, 2015). Visit the IFM at https://www.functionalmedicine.org/What_is_Functional_Medicine/AboutFM/
A mix of cooked and raw orange-colored foods will ensure you are getting the best of the many other orange phytonutrients like, alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, curcuminoids and naringenin.
Here are some ways to squeeze more orange foods into your diet:
· Add clementine slices to water
· Shred a few carrots into spaghetti sauce (my mom disclosed this family secret the other day)
· Add dried papaya, apricots and peaches into trail mix
· Add oranges, mangoes and papaya into a smoothie with coconut milk
· Bake sweet potato fries
· Zest the skin of a tangerine into a marinade
· Sprinkle turmeric into a vegetable stir fry
· Squeeze an orange over vegetables
· Eat a slice of pumpkin pie
· Add some carrot juice to a smoothie
· Chunk up some cantaloupe and pair it with another color fruit
· Slice up bell peppers and add to a salad with olive oil
· Try spaghetti squash ‘spaghetti’
· Make a fresh citrus salad dressing: juice an orange and mix with olive oil
I bet you have more ideas to add orange foods into your diet. Share them in a comment below!