It is said that we “eat with our eyes” before we ever put a morsel into our mouths. That’s because we all have an innate attraction to the vivid colors of plants. The colors and textures excite us and get us primed to eat. It’s Mother Nature’s way of helping us to survive. The more we are attracted to and consume whole plant based foods, the healthier we are going to be. In our modern world, however, we are targets of clever marketing campaigns that try to manipulate our attraction to bright, colorful foods.
Why do you think many processed foods come in such brightly colored packages? Sometimes even the snacks themselves mimic the shades naturally found in whole plant foods. Think of the product whose slogan is “Taste the Rainbow.” It‘s a clever slogan, but that product is a cheap counterfeit of the real rainbow we should be tasting every day.
We all get excited whenever we see a rainbow in the sky. I want us to be even more excited about the rainbow of foods we could be including in our diets. This week I want to talk specifically about orange fruits and vegetables.
What’s there to be excited about in orange fruits and vegetables?
- Vitamin A – Is important for vision as well as immune health, reproduction, and proper maintenance of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs.
- Vitamin C – This vitamin is essential for immune function, collagen production and wound healing, and studies show the diets high in fruits and vegetables containing Vitamin C are associated with lower risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
- Fiber – in sufficient amounts reduces your risk of diabetes, diverticular disease, heart disease, breast cancer, and constipation. Soluble fiber helps to reduce LDL, or bad, cholesterol, helps regulate sugar intake, and feeds healthy gut bacteria which promotes a healthy immune system.
- Beta-carotene – is an antioxidant that protects our cells from free radical damage. It is known to help immune function, and people with high levels of beta carotene in their blood have lower risks of cancer and heart disease.
- Potassium – High potassium intake is associated with lower blood pressure and stroke risk. It also protects against the loss of bone density and muscle mass, and reduces the formation of kidney stones. Our bodies need potassium to build protein, break down carbs for use in the body, build muscle, maintain normal body growth, control the electrical activity of the heart, and control the acid/base balance in the body.
- B Vitamins – B Complex vitamins help the body to metabolize fat and protein. They are also important for the brain, the nervous system, the immune system, and they are also needed for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver.
Of course, this is not the complete list of health-giving ingredients found in orange foods, but that should be enough to get you excited. Here are a few foods that can give you the benefits mentioned above.
Cantaloupes are an excellent source of both vitamin C and vitamin A, containing more than the RDA for both. They also contain beta-carotene and are a good source of potassium and contain significant amounts of B vitamins and fiber.
Peaches have Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.
Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C as well as a very good source of dietary fiber. They are also a good source of B vitamins including vitamin B1, pantothenic acid and folate as well as vitamin A, calcium, copper and potassium.
Guava contains nutrients that help curb many illnesses, including cancer and diabetes. It has five times the Vitamin A as an orange, and it also has high amounts of protein, fiber, and folate, and perhaps more vitamin C than any other fruit.
Other orange fruits to try are papaya, mangoes, persimmons, and kumquats.
In addition to orange fruits, orange vegetables also provide many nutrients we need for health. The following are just a few from which you can choose:
Pumpkin is one of the best sources for beta-carotene. It also has plenty of fiber, potassium, and Vitamin C.
Sweet potatoes are full of Vitamins A, C, as well as calcium and potassium. Not to mention they are loaded with fiber.
Winter squash, carrots, and orange peppers also deserve an honorable mention. No matter what your taste preference, there are so many different orange fruits and vegetables that you can surely find one that tickles your taste buds.
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