Very Orange by David Amsler/Flickr.com CC By 2.0
Deep orange vegetables are readily available and are packed with nutrition. Eating these vegetables has many health benefits because they are good sources of beta carotene, a carotenoid and antioxidant that protects against free-radical damage. Beta carotene is converted to Vitamin A in the body, and Vitamin A helps in the differentiation of normal cells. Thus, Vitamin A may prevent the development of cancer.
- Orange vegetables also contain Alpha carotene, a type of Vitamin A, which prevents cancer cells from dividing and taking over other cells in the body. When this happens, it stops the growth of cancer.
- The carotenoids present in deep orange vegetables may also be good for heart health. Studies show that when men with high cholesterol ate a high amount of these dark yellow/orange vegetables, they lowered their chances of getting a heart attack and dying more than men who did not eat these vegetables.
- Orange vegetables are also important for eye health. Studies have shown that people who eat a diet high in these vegetables experience a 43 percent decreased risk of macular degeneration, an eye disease that leads to blindness in older individuals.
Some common deep orange vegetables include: carrots; butternut and acorn squash; sweet potatoes and yams, and pumpkins. It is recommended that teens and adults should consume 4 to 6 cups of red and orange vegetables weekly. Children ages 4 to 8 should eat 3 cups of these vegetables, and children ages 2 to 3 should eat 2-1/2 cups each week.
Ways to use deep orange vegetables include:
- Use pumpkins and squash in soups.
- Grill dark yellow/orange vegetables, and serve them with meat.
- Dice or shred vegetables, and add to rice and pasta dishes.
- Use pureed pumpkin and squash in smoothies.
- Use dark yellow/orange vegetables when baking quick bread or dessert.
- Stir fry vegetables, and serve as a side dish. Add basil or parsley for extra flavor.
- Substitute baked sweet potato fries and baked sweet potato for the traditional potato fries and baked potato.
Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Healthy version of sweet potato fries
- 3 large sweet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Scrub potatoes and cut each potato lengthwise into wedges. Place in a bowl and toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Spread potatoes evenly on cookie sheet and bake for approximately 45 minutes turning potatoes after 20 minutes.