Home / Blog / Eat by Color: 4 Awesome Orange Foods

A plate full of different colors is healthy as well as beautiful. But what do these colors actually indicate? What is so awesome about orange foods?

If this question burns in your heart late at night, then you’ve come to the right place! Orange foods get their color from beta-carotene.  Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that the body transforms into vitamin A after consumption. Because your body only creates as much vitamin A from beta-carotene as it needs, there is no chance of overdosing. Vitamin A promotes healthy skin, immune systems, and eyes.

However, the main health benefit of consuming the four orange foods listed below does not come solely from beta-carotene. Eating fruits and vegetables fuels the body with a complex mix of vitamins, minerals, fibers, and other nutrients. When we eat delicious, natural foods, we are much less likely to reach for an artificially-colored orange foods like chips or processed and dyed cheese. A healthy diet is one that embraces a variety of nutrients and avoids chemicals.

Try the following four orange foods:

1. Winter Squash: Pumpkin, Butternut Squash, and Other Winter Squashes

Pumpkin 2Pumpkins, butternut squashes, and other squashes like acorn and delicata are all members of the cucurbita family. Acorn and delicata squashes do not contain as much beta-carotene as pumpkins or butternut squash.

Pumpkin and butternut squash have a similar flavor. Pumpkins, of course, are popular in Atlanta around October. This festive fruit (yes — these are fruits) contains high levels of lutein, a vitamin that’s linked to preventing some cancers and promoting eye health. Butternut squash is also a healthy choice: low in fat, high in fiber, it contains both potassium and antioxidants.

iNatural recommends: Try stirring puréed pumpkin into a chili or roasting butternut squash in wedges. Our roasted root vegetable medley shows off these jewel-like winter vegetables!

2. Sweet Potato

Sweet potato 2Sweet potatoes are another nutritional powerhouse. They contain high levels of fiber and complex carbohydrates in addition to the beta-carotene that gives them their vivid orange hue.

Sweet potatoes belong to the same family as morning glory flowers and are technically unrelated to yams. While yams have low beta-caratone levels and tend to taste dry and starchy, sweet potatoes add a vibrant and flavorful punch to any menu. Sweet potatoes can be prepared in many different ways — they are even fermented to create a Japanese alcohol called imo shōchū.

iNatural recommends: Try baking sticks of sweet potatoes like fries. Drizzle with local honey for a sweet, all-natural treat.

3. Carrot

CarrotThe ubiquitous carrot. Widespread and popular, the carrot still has a reputation for being “rabbit food,” forced down by toddlers in order to “earn” dessert. No more! Besides being incredibly healthy, carrots lend themselves to a wide variety of delicious preparations.

Low in starch and high in sugar, carrots may be roasted, boiled, steamed, sautéed, baked, and puréed. Carrots can serve as a salad, soup, entrée, or dessert. They can be crunchy or soft, spicy or sweet. We love carrot’s versatility and their brilliant color. Can you tell we’re a bit carrot-obsessed this autumn?

iNatural recommends: Purée carrots with ginger, cloves, and coconut milk for a warm soup. Bake them into beautiful cupcakes. Shave them and serve cold with noodles and a vinaigrette.

4. Orange Fruit: Apricot, Papaya, and Cantaloupe

PapayaNotice we didn’t say “oranges.” Despite the name, oranges and other citrus fruits don’t actually have as much beta-carotene as other vivid specimens like apricot, papaya, or cantaloupe. Grapefruits do contain more beta-carotene than many varieties of oranges. However, all of the above are healthy choices, regardless of beta-carotene levels.

Fruits with deep and vivid colors contain high levels of nutrients. In particular, grapefruit and oranges contain massive doses of vitamin C. Apricots provide large amounts of antioxidants and papaya can help reduce inflammation. Cantaloupe’s inflammation-fighting antioxidants and high levels of vitamin C make it another nutritional powerhouse.

iNatural recommends: We think nothing can beat a fresh, perfectly ripe fruit in season. However, if you’re in the mood to get fancy, try topping fresh fruit with organic cheese, nuts, and honey.

We love orange foods — naturally colored, of course! Consuming large amounts of beta-carotene can temporarily tinge your skin orange, so try to balance your plate with a variety of colors. Have we neglected to list your favorite orange food? Let us know in the comments section below.

This have been Olivia, the iNatural blogger. I’m tempted now to create an all-orange menu, with melon wrapped in prosciutto for a starter; a roasted squash, pumpkin, and carrot soup with baked sweet potato wedges drizzled in local honey; a dessert platter of cold papaya and apricot; and chai tea to finish. Yum…

Be sure to visit the iNatural Catering blog again for updates about the company, the green eating scene in Atlanta, and advice on how to keep your diet free of chemicals and preservatives. We welcome feedback! Contact us by leaving a comment below, emailing us at info@inaturalcatering.com, or using our contact form.


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