Orange fruits and vegetables are part of a healthy diet. These foods are loaded with essential nutrients that enhance organ functions and protects from chronic diseases. There are hundreds of orange-colored fruits and vegetables out there, which ones are the most nutritious? Check out our list below:
1. Carrots and Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes and carrots are loaded with retinoic acid. This compound is a derivative of vitamin A that improves vision and even inhibit cancer cell growth. A clinical study conducted by researchers at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia found that retinoic acid protects the body from breast cancer. It also shrinks tumors in early stages.
Squash is loaded with beta-carotene. This nutrient strengthens the immune system, improves vision and enhances organ functions. Beta-carotene is also a fat-soluble compound. Studies show that stir-frying orange vegetables with a little oil will increase the beta-carotene in the body by up to 63%! Of course, make sure you use healthy oils like canola or olive oil. We recommend roasting squash or sweet potatoes with a little olive oil to increase its nutritional value. You can also add oil-rich nuts to your favorite stir-fry for added texture.
3. Butternut Squash
Did you know orange-colored vegetables are good for the heart? That’s right, butternut squash, as well as carrots, are loaded with antioxidants and beta carotene. Both compounds work to prevent oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress is caused by free radicals that kill healthy cells. This process leads to chronic ailments and cardiovascular diseases. Butternut squash is one of the best sources of both alpha- and beta-carotene.
Just like carrots, pumpkins are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds are plant pigments that give orange veggies their distinct coloring. Lutein and zeaxanthin protect from cataracts and most types of eye problems. These compounds also restore vision. A study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology found that 35,000 women who consume foods high in plant pigments have the lowest risk of cataracts and eye problems as opposed to those with low consumption of foods with orange pigments. In the study, participants with high consumption of plant pigment consumed 6,716 micrograms of orange veggies per day.
5. Acorn Squash
A weak immune system will make you susceptible to common colds and other infections. That’s why it’s important to eat foods rich in vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 strengthens the immune system. It promotes the generation of antibodies to fight infections. Most types of orange veggies are loaded with vitamin B6. These veggies include sweet potatoes and acorn squash. Just a medium-sized sweet potato is enough to satisfy 25% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin B6. Meanwhile, a cup of mashed acorn squash will satisfy 19% of your RDA of the same nutrient.
6. Apricots and Peaches
Orange-colored fruits are full of vitamin C. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant. It protects from viral and bacterial infections, keeps the skin healthy and strengthens the immune system. Even better, vitamin C reverses the damage caused by free radicals! Apricots and peaches are just two orange-colored fruits that are high in vitamin C.