All About Orange Foods and Why You Should Be Eating Them

When we think of the color orange, most of us imagine autumn, fall foliage, jack-o-lanterns, and a crackling fireplace. But what about orange foods? Let’s explore this unique and natural food color, why foods are orange, their health benefits, and the top foods to add to your shopping list.

plates of orange foods on violet background

During the fall season, we subtly notice the produce aisle filling up with pumpkins, carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash. But do we ever stop to wonder what types of nutrients are packed into these deep orange vegetables?

Let’s place orange foods in the spotlight and find out how these foods contribute to a well-balanced diet. We’ll also explore how we can use orange foods to evoke warmth and comfort in our recipes well beyond Halloween!

Why Are There Naturally Orange Foods?

Orange foods owe their vibrant color to a pigment called beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a type of hydrocarbon that belongs to a family of phytonutrients known as carotenoids. These compounds are vital for plant life as they aid in the absorption of sunlight, which in turn supports the process of photosynthesis — the mechanism through which plants convert sunlight into energy-rich molecules, including chlorophyll.

But carotenoids don’t stop there. The striking orange hue they give to plants serves multiple functions in nature. For instance, the coloration attracts birds and insects, facilitating pollination, a crucial process for plant reproduction. Moreover, the vibrant orange color offers a form of photo-protection, effectively acting as a plant’s sunscreen to shield its tissues from the harmful effects of excessive sunlight.

Interestingly, these carotenoids don’t just benefit the plants themselves. When consumed by humans, beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A, a vital nutrient that promotes healthy vision, skin, and immune function. So, not only does beta-carotene give orange foods their appealing color, but it also contributes to their nutritional value, making them a healthy and attractive addition to our diets.

Are Orange Foods Healthy?

When we eat orange foods, the beta-carotene contained in these foods neutralizes free radicals inside the body. 

Free radicals occur as a natural byproduct of normal cell metabolism. Free radicals can also be increased by external pollutants such as industrial chemicals and smoking. Free radicals can damage healthy cells, leading to inflammation and a whole host of diseases inside the body.  

Orange foods also contain beta-cryptoxanthin and alpha-carotene, which are converted to vitamin A by the body. Vitamin A slows cancer cell growth, boosts the immune system, and helps cell growth, reproduction, and healthy vision. 

Orange foods play a role in protecting the body from heart disease and diabetes, as well as in maintaining healthy teeth and bones. Here are a few additional benefits of body-healthy orange foods:

  1. Rich in Antioxidants: Orange foods are high in carotenoids like beta-carotene, which have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body, potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
  2. Boosts Immune System: The beta-carotene in orange foods is converted into vitamin A in the body, which is essential for maintaining a robust immune system. Vitamin A is known to help strengthen the skin and mucous membrane barriers in the body, making it harder for bacteria and viruses to infect.
  3. Promotes Eye Health: Orange foods are often high in both beta-carotene and other compounds like lutein and zeaxanthin. These substances are linked to a lower risk of developing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
  4. Supports Skin Health: The vitamins and antioxidants in orange foods can promote healthy skin, aid in skin cell regeneration, and protect against damage from the sun.
  5. Aids Digestive Health: Many orange foods, like sweet potatoes and pumpkins, are high in dietary fiber. Fiber aids digestion, promotes a healthy weight, and can help regulate blood sugar levels.
  6. Heart Health: Certain orange foods like oranges and other citrus fruits are rich in potassium and flavonoids, which can support heart health by helping to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Orange Fruits

While it’s true that orange foods add powerful antioxidants to your diet – all orange foods are not equal. This is especially true when it comes to taste and nutritional value.

We will cover 5 orange fruits and vegetables that are delicious, packed with nutrients, and would significantly enhance your dishes!

peeled oranges on light orange background


Oranges are the most well-known and widely available orange-colored citrus fruit. In fact, the color orange is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘nāranga’, which can be translated directly to mean ‘orange tree.’ 

Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C. According to, one cup of raw orange slices is packed with vitamin C, containing more than 100% of our daily requirement. 

Oranges are also a good source of folate, calcium, potassium, and fiber. To leverage the fruit’s fiber content, it is recommended to eat the whole orange (peeled), rather than simply drinking orange juice with the pulp. The Clementine is a sweet, bright orange hybrid of the mandarin orange and sweet orange. It is one of the most accessible types of oranges to peel and enjoy as part of a healthy diet.


Persimmons are sweet, slightly tangy fruits with a custard-like texture, native to Asia. They’re typically bright orange when ripe and come in several varieties, the most common being Hachiya and Fuyu. Packed with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, persimmons can be enjoyed fresh, dried, or used in various dishes such as salads, desserts, and preserves.


Cantaloupe, also known as muskmelon, is a type of melon fruit characterized by its rough, netted skin and sweet, fragrant orange flesh. This hydrating fruit is rich in vitamins A and C and other important nutrients like fiber and potassium. The refreshing taste of cantaloupe makes it a popular choice in fruit salads, smoothies, and desserts, or simply enjoyed fresh on a hot summer day.


One cup of raw peaches contains approximately 8% of our daily requirements of vitamins E and B3. Peaches are also good sources of vitamins A, C and K, as well as the minerals copper, potassium and manganese

Peaches can be eaten whole (minus the pits), blended into smoothies, added to cold cereals, and added to yogurt. They can also be made into jams, preserves or other desserts.


The papaya fruit, also referred to as ‘pawpaw’, is a large oval shaped fruit with a sweet and juicy orange interior that is quite creamy in texture.  

Papayas are native to Central America, specifically, the tropical region of southern Mexico. They are available year-round, with peak season between April and June. One cup of chopped raw papaya contains approximately 8% of our daily value of vitamin A and 98% of our daily value of vitamin C. In addition, papayas are a good source of folate and potassium

Papayas are well known for being the primary source of the enzyme ‘papain,’ which has many health benefits and can also be used as a meat tenderizer.  


One cup of raw sliced nectarines gives us approximately 10% of our daily value for vitamin B3 and 9% of our daily dose of vitamin C.  Nectarines also contain plenty of copper and potassium and are high in fiber. Nectarines can be treated similarly to peaches in how they are consumed and prepared.

Orange Tomatoes 

One cup of raw tomatoes contains 27% of our daily intake of vitamin C, and 12% of our daily requirements for vitamin K and copper. Tomatoes are also high in potassium, vitamin A and B9. 

Tomatoes can be eaten in salads (especially cherry tomatoes), sauces, soups, and casseroles. They can also be grilled, roasted, pureed, and paired with a variety of meats and vegetables.


One cup of halved raw apricots contains approximately 17% of our daily value for vitamins A and C. Apricots are good sources of vitamin E, potassium, and soluble fiber. They are also excellent sources of insoluble fiber if they are consumed with the flesh still on. Dried, unsweetened apricots are a good alternative to fresh ones since they still retain most of their nutritional value. 

stacked carrots

Orange Vegetables


One cup of raw cubed pumpkin contains more than 50% of our daily nutritional value for vitamin A. Pumpkins are excellent sources of vitamins C, B2 and E, as well as are high in potassium, copper, manganese, and iron

Similar to butternut squash, all parts of the pumpkin can be eaten (except the stalk). Pumpkin can be steamed, roasted, cooked in soups, pies, curries, the list goes on. 


One cup of chopped raw carrots contains more than 110% of our daily value of vitamin A. Carrots are also rich in vitamin B6, high in minerals such as potassium and manganese, and are a good source of fiber. Carrots can be eaten raw in salads, cooked in stews or soups, roasted, or blended in smoothies. 

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is a type of winter squash that has a sweet, nutty flavor, similar to that of a pumpkin. It has an elongated bell shape with a thin, tan-colored skin and vibrant orange flesh. Rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, butternut squash is a nutritious addition to a variety of dishes, from soups and salads to roasted vegetable medleys and desserts.

Sweet Potato

When cooked, sweet potatoes have a mild, sweet flavor and a creamy, sometimes stringy texture. Sweet potatoes are also packed with nutrients

One cup of uncooked, cubed sweet potatoes contains more than 100% of our daily nutritional value for vitamin A and 22% of our daily value for copper. Sweet potatoes are also high in vitamins B5 and B6, soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as the minerals manganese, potassium.

Sweet potatoes are delicious, inexpensive, highly nutritious, and versatile. You can boil sweet potatoes, bak, steam, grill, fry, or puree them. They are delicious when paired with spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon. And of course, there is always sweet potato pie! Also, if you’re not sure how to tell if a sweet potato is bad, we’ve got you covered! Not sure 

Chanterelle Mushrooms

The chanterelle mushroom is a funnel shaped, wild, edible mushroom that grow across Europe and North America. They are known to have both a peppery flavor and yet mildly sweet, apricot-like aroma. 

One cup of raw mushrooms contains 14% of our daily intake of vitamin D and 21% of our daily requirement for copper. They are also great sources of vitamin B2, B3, B5, as well as the minerals iron and manganese.  Chanterelle mushrooms are usually sautéed and paired with chicken, steak, fish, and savory vegetables. 

More Orange Foods

Salmon Roe

Salmon roe, often referred to as “red caviar” or “ikura” in Japanese cuisine, are the ripe, edible eggs harvested from female salmon. Known for its rich, briny flavor and satisfying pop when bitten, salmon roe is a delicacy often used in sushi or served as a garnish. It’s also a powerhouse of nutrition, boasting high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and other essential nutrients.

Curry Powder

Curry powder is a blend of spices that originated from the Indian subcontinent, traditionally used to flavor curry dishes. It typically includes a mix of turmeric, cumin, coriander, and other spices, which together create a warm, earthy, and somewhat spicy flavor profile. The distinct yellow hue of curry powder is largely due to the turmeric content, and its versatile flavor enhances a wide range of dishes beyond just traditional curries.


Turmeric is a vibrant orange-yellow spice that is a key ingredient in many Asian dishes, including curries. Its flavor is warm and slightly bitter, while its aroma is reminiscent of both orange and ginger. Turmeric is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, primarily attributed to curcumin, its active compound.

Orange Food FAQs

What is the most popular orange vegetable?

The most popular orange vegetable is arguably the carrot, enjoyed worldwide for its sweet taste, versatility, and health benefits.

Which foods are orange?

A variety of foods are orange, including carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, butternut squash, persimmons, oranges, tangerines, apricots, and mangoes. Some spices like turmeric and curry powder are also orange, as are certain processed foods like cheddar cheese and orange jelly beans.

What are some orange veggies?

There are many orange vegetables, including carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, butternut squash, bell peppers, and certain varieties of tomatoes and lentils.

What is the healthiest orange vegetable?

All orange vegetables provide various health benefits, so it’s hard to single one out as the “healthiest.” However, sweet potatoes are often recognized for their high levels of vitamin A, fiber, and antioxidants. Similarly, carrots are also an excellent source of vitamins and fiber and are particularly known for their high beta-carotene content, which is good for eye health.

What root vegetables are orange?

Several root vegetables are orange, including carrots, sweet potatoes, and certain varieties of beets and radishes. Turmeric is also a root spice with a vivid orange color.

pile of blood oranges with one sliced open
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Orange Foods

Orange foods have tons of health benefits. From savory dishes to sweet treats, here's why you should be eating more of them.
Prep Time2 mins
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: foods that are orange, orange foods, orange snacks
Servings: 1 serving


Orange Fruits

  • Oranges
  • Cantaloupe
  • Peaches
  • Papaya
  • Nectarines
  • Apricots
  • Orange Tomatoes
  • Persimmons

Orange Vegetables

  • Pumpkin
  • Carrots
  • Sweet Potato
  • Chanterelle Mushrooms
  • Butternut Squash

More Orange Foods

  • Salmon Roe
  • Curry Powder
  • Turmeric


  • Choose a food.
  • Cook and enjoy!

Best Naturally Orange Snacks

Below are a few naturally-orange foods that are great at snack time, or any time.

Mandarin Orange Fruit Bowls

Unsweetened Orange Rind Chip 

Organic Dried Mango


Best Orange Snack Food For a Splurge

Ok, so these foods might not be naturally orange, and therefore don’t have the nutritional benefits, but they are fun. And not to mention delicious!


Orange Cream Party Wafers


Orange Food Recipes

There are tons of orange recipes out there. From Desserts to savory, here are a few of our favorites.

Savory Orange Recipes

Fried Mac and Cheese Bites

Chipotle Fajita Veggies

Sweet Orange Recipes

Frozen Orange Dreamsicle Dessert

2-Ingredient Pumpkin Dump Cake

Perfect Pumpkin Bread

Candy Corn Cupcakes

orange foods - pinterest pin

Psst… Now that you’ve learned all you need to know about red foods, check out our posts all about pink foods, all about red food, all about blue foods and all about yellow foods!

Have questions about orange foods? Leave them in the comments below. 

Like posts like this one? You might also like our list of foods that start with E and our post on blue fruits and our post on white foods.

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