Working our way through the rainbow! Last week I mentioned Roy G Biv, and we discussed the benefits of eating red foods. This week, O is for orange! And as we are starting to enjoy cooler temperatures as the fall season approaches, we see that orange is the color of the season.
There is a wide variety of orange colored food available. Fruits like oranges, apricots, cantaloupe, mango, nectarines, papaya, persimmons, and tangerines. Vegetables such as carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, squash, yams and turmeric root make the list.
Orange colored vegetables contain carotenoids such as beta-carotene, which supports the immune system and is a powerful anti-oxidant. Beta-carotene is converted into Vitamin A in our bodies and is essential for healthy vision, cell growth, bone health and reproduction.
The best way to maximum absorption of beta-carotene is to cook the vegetables. By cooking these high fiber vegetables, the carotenoids are released from the food matrix. Since Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, adding a small amount of fat, like a drizzle of olive oil on your orange vegetables will also increase absorption of this vitamin in our guts. Turmeric root is a potent anti-inflammatory, containing curcumin. Sprinkle this orange spice liberally on your veggies.
Orange fruits contain another family of phytonutrients called bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids are water-soluble, so they don’t need fat or cooking for good absorption. Bioflavonoids help us with our Vitamin C absorption which helps reduce the risk for heart attacks and cancer, and helps us maintain healthy vision and skin and strong bones and teeth. Nutrition comes in a food package in which the phytonutrients work harmoniously.
My recipe to share with you this week involves a radical idea, sweet potatoes for breakfast! Don’t judge this yummy, filling, first meal of the day until you give it a try. It is full of fiber and has over 400 percent of your daily Vitamin A requirement. Here is one of my favorite ways to eat sweet potatoes in the morning. Enjoy!
by Ruth Abate, LNS, CD, director of dietary services at Prairie View, Inc.