The orange vegetables have solid health benefits as well as great taste. Here are four you’ll want to add to your diet.
It’s likely you already know the importance of eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. From a health standpoint, it’s even better if those fruits and vegetables span the colors of the rainbow. This ensures that you’re getting a diversity of nutrients, antioxidants, and other healthy phytonutrients. One group of vegetables that some people fail to eat on a regular basis are the orange vegetables. This is unfortunate since these vegetables have so much to offer from a health and taste standpoint.
Why are the orange vegetables so important? The coloration of orange vegetables is derived from beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. Vitamin A plays an important role in maintaining healthy vision. A lack of vitamin A can cause poor vision at night or when the lights dim at dusk. Vitamin A is also important for maintaining healthy immune function. Although it was once thought that beta-carotene supplements might be helpful for preventing cancer, a large study showed that supplemental beta-carotene actually increased lung cancer incidence as well as the death rate among smokers. For this reason, most doctors recommend that you get beta-carotene in its natural form from foods as opposed to supplements.
When you think of orange vegetables, the vision of a carrot probably comes to mind, but that’s certainly not your only option. Here are four orange vegetables that are rich in beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A which can help to promote good vision and a healthy immune system.
It seems that when most people reach for a potato, they select the standard white potato. By doing this, they’re missing out on the deliciously sweet taste and the added health benefits of the beta-carotenes and other antioxidants present in this orange vegetable. Try roasting sweet potatoes with a little olive oil or make your own oven baked sweet potato fries to substitute for the less healthy McDonald’s variety. Sweet potatoes are also perfect for creating puddings, pies, and other desserts. At least when you eat a dessert made from sweet potato, you can justify it by reminding yourself you’re getting your daily quota of beta carotene.
Pumpkin is another versatile orange vegetable that can be added to a variety of recipes. And why not? Not only does it taste good, it’s also a healthy source of vitamin C and, of course, beta-carotene. Plus, it’s low in calories with one cup having only about fifty calories. Pureed pumpkin can be used to make healthy pumpkin breads, puddings, soups, and even stirred into your oatmeal in the morning. Unfortunately, you can only find fresh pumpkin at certain times of the year, but canned pumpkin is available year round.
When you think of orange vegetables, this is the one that comes to mind. Carrots may have gotten a bad rap for being high in carbs during the Atkins era, but the nutritional benefits are too good to pass up. Because of their high content of vitamin A, they’re considered to be the quintessential vision vegetable. Chop them up and dip them into your own healthy dip made from low fat sour cream. Don’t forget about adding them to soups and salads.
Winter squash is another healthy source of vitamins A and C as well as fiber and beta-carotene. It’s also one of the most versatile vegetables around. Use spaghetti squash as a healthy substitute for pasta or puree acorn squash and create a delicious squash based soup. Pureed butternut squash makes a delicious dessert when combined with cinnamon and maple syrup. The ways to use squash are almost endless as are the health benefits.
So why not get inspired and discover new ways to add orange vegetables to your diet?