All About Orange Foods and Why You Should Be Eating Them

For most of us, when we think of the color orange, we imagine autumn, fall foliage, jack-o-lanterns, a crackling fireplace, and of course – orange food.

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?

Beta-carotenes are the pigment producing compounds that give orange foods their orange color. It is a form of hydrocarbon that is part of a family of phytonutrients called carotenoids

Carotenoids help plants absorb sunlight and support photosynthesis by transforming sunlight into chlorophyll. The bright orange hue of these plants functions to attract birds and insects for pollination. It also provides a form of photo-protection for these plants.

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.

The List: Orange Foods (Fruits and Veggies)

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

Orange Fruits

Oranges

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 NutritionValue.org, 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.

Peaches

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.

Papaya

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 in the months between April to 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.  

Nectarines

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.

Apricots

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

Pumpkin

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. 

Carrots

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. 

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. 

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.

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

Halos

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!

Goldfish

Orange Cream Party Wafers

Cheez-Its

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

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

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