From the Detox Challenge, Dr. Diana Minich has been discussing how orange foods help benefit the human experience.

Orange Foods

Orange foods help protect the immune system, eyes, and skin, and reduce the risk for cancer and heart disease.

The Food List

When you look at the food list, you will find many orange-colored foods to include into your daily eating. Orange fruits include apricots, cantaloupe, mango, nectarine, oranges, papaya, persimmon, and tangerines. You can eat these fruits fresh or dried; however, note that store-bought dried fruits will most likely have sugar and sulfites added. Read the label carefully to be sure there is no added sugar. If you are sensitive to sulfites, as some people are, it is best to avoid sulfite-treated fruits.

Orange vegetables on this list are acorn squash, orange bell pepper, butternut squash, carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes. Keep in mind that several of these vegetables are relatively higher in sugar (like carrots) and even quite starchy (like squashes). Therefore, you will want to eat these foods in a mixed meal with other foods that will blunt the spike in blood sugar that may result after eating these foods. Adding some oil to these foods will bring down the glycemic response, as will adding protein to the meal.

Some of the richest sources of carotenoids include carrots, mango, papaya, and pumpkin. Finally, you will notice that turmeric root is on this list-an important food as well as a spice when it has been dried into a powder. Turmeric powder contains curcuminoids, which are potent anti-inflammatory compounds. You may want to sprinkle turmeric or grate turmeric root into stir-fries, onto meats, or even into a smoothie!

Ways to get more orange foods:

  • Have a sweet potato instead of a baked white potato
  • Sprinkle turmeric powder onto vegetable stir-fry
  • Put orange slices into your water pitcher
  • Drink carrot or orange juice instead of soft drinks
  • Have a clementine, tangerine, nectarine, or peach as a mid-morning or afternoon snack
  • Puree carrots, butternut squash, or pumpkin and use as a soup base
  • Make a tropical fruit smoothie by blending fresh cubed mango, papaya, and orange in a base of coconut milk with your choice of protein powder
  • Make a trail mix containing dried orange fruits like apricots, mango, and papaya
  • Nutrients in Orange Foods

When most people think of orange phytonutrients, they think of beta-carotene, and when they think of beta-carotene, they think of carrots. Beta-carotene is important because it can turn into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A has many functions, such as promoting healthy vision and supporting the immune and inflammatory systems, cell growth, reproduction, and bone health. There are actually several plant compounds that convert to vitamin A in the body (also called carotenoids) under the right conditions; beta-carotene is just one of these.

Most food sources of vitamin A are of animal origin such as seafood, eggs, fish, and dairy products like yogurt, milk, and cheese. If you are a vegan or do not eat certain animal products, it will be essential for you to eat high carotenoid-containing foods. These foods tend to be colorful: red, orange, yellow, and green. It may not be enough to have carotenoids as your sole source of vitamin A because many factors can limit the conversion of carotenoids into beta-carotene, such as genetic disorders, digestive issues, excessive alcohol use, toxicity, and certain prescription or over-the-counter medications.

To get the highest amount of carotenoids like beta-carotene from your food, it's best to cook some foods. Carotenoid-containing vegetables that are higher in fiber require the heat of cooking to free the carotenoids from the food matrix (including the fiber). And once you've liberated the carotenoids from the food by cooking, you need fat to shuttle them into the body. Carotenoids are fat-soluble-they must be eating with fat to become more available to the body. Therefore, cooked carrots drizzled with olive oil is an ideal way to maximize absorption of the beta-carotene in those carrots in the gut.

Another important group of phytonutrients associated with orange-colored foods is the bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids are found in oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, clementines, peaches, nectarines, as well as in yellow-colored foods like lemons and pineapple. In contrast to beta carotene, bioflavonoids are water-soluble, so they don't require cooking or fat for best absorption. In fact, cooking could be detrimental as it can lead to breakdown of these important compounds. Bioflavonoids are important because they work together with vitamin C to reduce the risk of heart attacks and cancer. They also help maintain strong bones/teeth, healthy skin, and good vision. It is often the case in nutrition that you see vitamins, phytonutrients, and minerals working together to create the best effect!

To the deliciousness of orange foods!