All fruits and vegetables are nutritious, but most have a superpower—more of one type of nutrient than the others.
One way to identify their superpower is by their color. Fruits and vegetables are filled with phytonutrients, or plant nutrients, which are responsible for their vibrant colors. For the plants, they also act as a defense mechanism, protecting them from their environment.
For humans, a diet rich in phytonutrients can also have a number of defense and protective mechanisms and provide support for different parts of our own personal health system.
Looking for something to support your immune system, eye health and skin health? Then it’s time to go for gold—or orange and yellow, to be precise. Carrots, oranges, cantaloupe, pumpkin, squash, apricots, lemons, corn, pineapple and peppers are some examples.
These foods contain carotenoids—phytonutrients and powerful antioxidants. They also have large quantities of vitamin C. Here are some of the orange and yellow superstars.
Think of oranges as do-gooders. An orange has more than 170 different phytonutrients, which give it anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. And let’s not forget that vitamin C content. They are great to eat fresh, squeezed for juice or tossed in a smoothie.
Pumpkins and other hard squashes contain the carotenoid beta-carotene, which our bodies convert into vitamin A, a key support for vision health. Store them whole and slightly below room temperature to preserve the nutrients.
They are great roasted, pureed for soups or used in smoothies and baking. Next time you enjoy some pumpkin bread or pumpkin pie, just think about all the beta-carotene and other nutrients you’re getting along with a tasty treat.
Carrots provide alpha-carotene and lutein, which support your vision health. Want to get most out of this iconic rabbit snack? The amount of nutrients your body absorbs from them increases when you chop or grate them before eating.
Cantaloupe contains lots of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. Picking when they are fully ripe will give you the most carotenoids.
Whether in a recipe or fresh off the tree, you’ll get the most nutrients from peaches by including the skin as well as the juicy flesh. The antioxidant phytonutrients in this fruit are linked to eye health.
Variety is best
With several orange and yellow options to choose from, you shouldn’t have any problem getting a regular supply of phytonutrients from the golden group.
But variety is best. Make sure to fill your plate with a rainbow of colors to ensure you’re getting nutrients from across the spectrum.