A Light and Bright, Yet Deep Dive into What Makes Food Orange, Oral and Overall Health Benefits, Plus 35 Orange Foods Nutrition Facts and Fun Ways To Enjoy Each One!
When you think of healthy foods that are orange, you may immediately think of oranges or carrots. And you may be aware that these commonly thought of orange foods can help nourish your eyesight and support your immune system. Well, they certainly can, but there are plenty of other healthy orange foods that provide all sorts of nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy, strong and energized!
Within this, all things orange healthy food article you’ll learn about what makes food orange, the general health benefits of orange foods, the oral health benefits orange foods bring us, and uncover 21 orange foods including each’s unique nutrition profile and suggested ways to enjoy it!
Orange you glad you came here? Lol, read on for all the fun healthy facts on orange foods!
What Causes Orange Food To Be Orange?
Orange fruits and vegetables get their orange color from a pigment called carotenoids. Carotenoids are a phytochemical that help plants absorb energy and when eaten by people act as antioxidants and help support a generally healthy body.
There are over 600 types of carotenoids, all have specific (and sometimes similar) health benefits. Next, we will get into the type of carotenoids found in orange foods and how they help us!
General Health Benefits of Orange Foods
As mentioned in the last section, carotenoids are phytochemicals. When we eat foods that contain carotenoids they function as antioxidants in our bodies. Antioxidants do a lot of good for us, specifically, they help to scavenge free radicals, and reduce cellular oxidations which essentially help keep our cells healthy and minimize cell damage.
Of the 600-plus carotenoid types, orange foods tend to have certain carotenoids in them. Most orange fruits and vegetables have carotenoid beta carotene in them. Beta carotene converts into vitamin A in our bodies. Vitamin A helps foster good vision, hydrated healthy skin and supports a strong immune system.
On top of that, some studies (and the research continues to emerge) have shown that beta carotene may help protect against getting sunburn and may help lower the risk of developing metabolic syndrome. For more details on the studies that demonstrate these protective effects check out the meta-analysis from Phytochemistry and Phytobiology as well as this study from the Journal of Nutrition.
And, just FYI metabolic syndrome is a collective of concerns that can raise your risk of developing chronic health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Some orange fruits also contain other carotenoids such as lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta cryptoxanthin. These carotenoids support our general health in many ways, but essentially they have positive impacts on our skin health, eye health, cellular protection, anti-bacterial, and brain health.
Orange foods also tend to be solid sources of vitamin C and potassium. Vitamin C is another antioxidant that can protect your body from free radicals as well as help support your immune system, aid in wound healing, help strengthen your bones by assisting in the absorption of collagen and can even help maintain skin elasticity.
Potassium is a mineral that can help with managing blood pressure, keep our hearts functioning well, balance water in our bodies and aid in muscle contraction.
As you can tell, there are a ton of general health benefits you gain when you eat healthy sources of orange foods! In the section where I go over each orange food I’ll cover the specific nutrition each food has, but this current section hopefully, gave you an understanding of why eating orange foods is so great for us!
Oral Health Benefits of Orange Foods
It sure is important to eat foods that fuel our overall health, since our mouths are the first part of us that comes into contact with food (and is the first step in our bodies digesting and absorbing food) it’s just as crucial that we aim to nourish this part of us too.
Since orange foods are packed with so many antioxidants, vitamins and minerals they provide a ton of benefits to our teeth and gums.
From a day to day, nutrition for oral health perspective vitamin A helps to strengthen your enamel and increase saliva production, so you don’t get a dry mouth.
On top of that, potassium contributes to bone mineral density, so it helps to keep your teeth strong and keep the bones around your teeth like your jaw healthy and strong too. To learn more about how these nutrients help keep your teeth strong, as well as other nutrients vital for this, check out my other article “6 Vitamins For Strong Teeth“.
And if you are getting dental surgery, you definitely want to include orange foods. Because orange fruits and vegetables are a wonderful source of vitamin C! Vitamin C helps to strengthen the wound healing area by supporting the production and absorption of the protein collagen into the tissues in your gums. This can help your gums heal faster and get back to feeling normal. For more information on healing foods after tooth surgery, check out my other article “Healing Foods to Eat After Tooth Extraction“.
Now, some orange foods can hurt our dental health over time because they are acidic and acidic foods can contribute to tooth decay. So, if you are eating an acidic food try pairing it with a protein or fat-containing food to help offset the acid while reaping the benefits of the orange goodness! Teamwork makes the dream work!
Alrighty, let’s dive into these 21 orange fruits and vegetables!
21 Orange Foods
Here’s a list of the 21 orange foods. For each food you’ll find the nutrition profile and some suggestions on how they can be enjoyed! Percent of daily values (DV) are all based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.
Acorn squash is a yellowish-orange vegetable. Often enjoyed during the fall and winter months it makes for a delightful food to enjoy warm. This vegetable is packed full of nutrients.
Per 1 cup of cooked cubed acorn squash you get 25% of your DV, 13% DV of potassium along with some fiber, vitamin B6, and magnesium. On top of that, you can eat 9% of your Vitamin A DV. Vitamin A in acorn squash is eaten in the form of alpha and beta carotene.
The ways to cook this veggie are plentiful. You can cut it in half, take out the pulp and seeds and roast, bake, steam or boil. It makes a great side dish.
Apricots are a sweet fruit often enjoyed during the summer and spring months. Per 1 cup of fresh apricot, you get 27% of vitamin C, 13% DV of fiber, 12% DV of potassium and 8% DV of Vitamin A. If you go for dried apricots, some information suggests the vitamin A content is even higher and one cup of dried apricot can have up to 94% DV of vitamin A!
Now, the carotenoids in apricots are abundant. You not only eat the beta-carotene form, but you also get some amounts of the carotenoid forms cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin and alpha-carotene.
Apricots can be eaten fresh, in yogurt, or oatmeal, thrown in smoothies, grilled with ice cream as a dessert, or baked into main dishes just to name a few ways to chomp down on this fruit!
Butternut squash is an awesome fall vegetable that can be consumed in so many ways. You can eat it in soups, or pasta, bake it, roast it, cube it and throw it in salads or have it mashed like mashed potatoes.
Nutrition wise this orange squash is yet another food that is packed with carotenoids. You can look forward to eating this vegetable knowing you are digesting beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin carotenoids.
Along with those phytochemicals per one cup cubed you’ll get 457% DV vitamin A, 48% DV vitamin C, 14% DV potassium, 12% DV magnesium, and 10% DV vitamin B6. So, cheers to butternut squash nutrition!
Cantaloupe is a yummy hydrating orange fruit. It is filled with the carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin.
Nutrition wise with one cup of cantaloupe you can look forward to downing 72% DV of vitamin C, 33% DV of vitamin A, along with some vitamin B6 and magnesium.
Cantaloupe is tasty on its own, goes great in a fruit salad topped with some whipped cream or can be diced and thrown into yogurts and oatmeals.
Carrots may be one of the first foods that come to mind when you think of orange healthy foods! From a carotenoid perspective, carrots are mostly filled with beta and alpha-carotene forms.
From a nutrition standpoint, you may have heard to eat carrots for food eyesight and that is understandable since one cup of chopped carrots contains 51% DV of vitamin A. On top of that, with one cup you’ll eat 6% DV of vitamin C, 9% DV of potassium and 5% DV of vitamin B6.
Carrots are another versatile food. You can eat them raw, or add to salads, soups, cakes or coleslaw. Or you can grill, roast or bake with them. Carrots aren’t just for rabbits, they are a nutritious orange food that can be enjoyed in so many ways.
These smaller fruits are part of the oranges family, specifically a type of mandarin orange that packs a punch when it comes to nutrition. They contain the carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. When you enjoy one clementine you eat 60% DV of vitamin C, 4% DV of vitamin B1, 5% DV of vitamin B6, and 4% DVs of your vitamin B9 and potassium, respectively.
Clementines can be enjoyed raw, canned, added to salads or part of a fresh baked good, just to name a few ways to make them part of your diet!
Kumquats are citrus fruits native to China, although today they can be found all over the world. These tiny orange fruits contain beta-carotene as the carotenoid.
When you pop about 5 to 6 of these little fruits into your mouth you can smile knowing you are consuming 10% DV vitamin A, 73% DV vitamin C, 7% DV magnesium and 6% DV calcium.
Kumquats can have a strong, acquired taste, so if you are new to them try them out by popping one whole one into your mouth. Other ways to enjoy them are by mixing them into a marmalade and adding them to a liqueur or citrus fruit salad.
Mandarins are another fruit part of the oranges fruit family. This medium-sized citrus fruit is filled with beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthins for carotenoids.
Nutritionally speaking, per one mandarin you’ll be digesting 39% DV vitamin C, 12% DV vitamin A, 5% DV vitamin B6, 4% DV potassium and 3% DV calcium.
Mandarins are yet another orange food that can be consumed in several ways. Just to list off some ways you can have them raw, canned, part of jell-o, in cookies, add to smoothies, part of bruschetta, parfaits, pancakes and popsicles. The opportunities to get creative with mandarin recipes are abundant.
Mangoes are often thought of as an orange tropical fruit. They contain the carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein and alpha-carotene.
And yup, nutrition-wise mangoes are another fruit that is chook full of good stuff. With one mango you’ll be slurping down 203% DV vitamin C, 20% DV vitamin A, 20% DV vitamin B6, 16% DV potassium and 8% DV magnesium.
This warm-weather fruit can be added to smoothies, chopped up and thrown into salsa, yogurt, citrus salad or cooked as part of chicken dishes.
Nectarines are technically part of the rose family of fruits, however, the inside of one is of a light orange color. This fruit has the carotenoids carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. And a fun fact, the peel of the nectarine has a higher concentration of carotenoids, so if you are looking to get the most nutrients out of this fruit, eat the peel!
Its nutrition profile is another stellar one. With this orange food, you’ll get 12% DV vitamin C, 10% DV niacin, 8% DV potassium, 5% DV vitamin A, and 3% DV magnesium.
Nectarines taste great eaten as is with the peel on or you can add them to smoothies, sorbet, and fruit salad. In addition, they can be grilled or sliced and topped up on toast with peanut butter.
Orange Bell Pepper
Orange bell pepper is a crispy vegetable that is yet another orange food you can eat in many ways. This one can be eaten raw, sliced and dipped with ranch dressing, added to salads, roasted and thrown into rice bowls, added to soups or baked as part of a casserole. Now, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy them, that’s just a few!
This vegetable is an excellent source of a variety of carotenoids. When you include orange bell pepper into your diet you can feel good knowing you are eating lutein, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin and violaxanthin carotenoids.
On top of that, with 1 bell pepper, you will get 325% DV vitamin C, 67% DV vitamin A, 5% DV potassium and 2% DV iron.
Does white cauliflower pop into your mind when you think of cauliflower? If so, I understand too. Well, orange cauliflower may be a kind that gets overlooked, it’s another vegetable that is orange and nutrient dense.
Orange cauliflower contains the carotenoid beta-carotene. When you eat just 1/16th of a medium orange cauliflower you get 90% DV vitamin C, 5% DV iron and 2% DV calcium.
Just like white cauliflower, orange cauliflower can be eaten tempura style, as rice, roasted, raw, part of salads, mashed potato style or mixed into soups.
Orange Habanero Pepper
This bright orange pepper has a different flavor profile than an orange bell pepper. They are spicy! So, if you are looking to amp up the hot level when it comes to heat of a dish, this orange food is for you. Orange habanero makes a great food to use as part of a hot sauce or chilli powder. You can also eat them pickled, or add them to stir fry or chilli.
The rich orange color goes along with its rich carotenoid profile. When you include this as part of the menu you get beta-carotene, violaxanthin, antheraxanthin and zeaxanthin carotenoids. Nutrition-wise, enjoy per 100 grams the pepper boasts 160% DV of vitamin C, 32% DV of vitamin A, 7% DV of potassium and 6% DV of iron.
Although tomatoes are mostly depicted as red, they come in other colors too such as yellow and orange. Orange tomatoes contain the carotenoids alpha and beta carotenes as well as lycopene.
Per one cup of chopped orange tomatoes, you can enjoy 28% DV of vitamin C, 13% DV of vitamin A, 11% DV of vitamin B9 and 6% DV respectively or vitamins B1, B3, and B6.
These juicy tomatoes can be eaten raw, added to soups, pasta, salads, sandwiches or roasted with your favorite main dishes.
This just may be the fruit that comes first to mind when you think of orange food! As the name implies, this bright orange food is packed with carotenoids. You’ll get not only the typical beta carotene, but you also eat lutein, violaxanthin, luetoxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, and zeaxanthin.
For one medium orange you will consume 85% DV vitamin C, 13% DV vitamin B1, 6% DV vitamin B2, 5% DV vitamin B6, 4% DV potassium and 2% DV vitamin A.
As with most of the foods listed here, the ways to eat oranges seem endless. A few ideas on how to enjoy them are to eat them raw, add them to yogurt, oatmeal, salads, and smoothies, make freshly squeeze orange juice or put them into popsicles.
Peaches are another versatile orange food. A summer fruit, you can have peaches raw, as is, use them to make jam, grill them and have them with ice cream or as part of a salad, make pies, ice cream, popsicles, or throw them into oatmeal or yogurt.
This stone fruit is packed with carotenoids. A peach will give you the usual beta-carotene along with alpha-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin.
One medium peach nutritionally contains 15% DV vitamin C, 6% DV vitamin A and 2% DV potassium and magnesium. Although, it is not packed with a high percentage of vitamins and minerals it sure is packed with a lot of carotenoids.
Pumpkins aren’t just for carving or used to flavor the classic fall favorite pumpkin spiced lattes. This orange fall food can be eaten or drank in several ways. You can roast the seeds, make pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin overnight oats, smoothies, and yogurt, or throw it into stews or salads.
Pumpkins are touted as an excellent source of the carotenoid beta carotene. But, the food also is filled with lutein and alpha-carotene.
Given that it is such a great source of carotene it makes sense that one cup of pumpkin packs 209% DV vitamin A, along with 17% DV vitamin C, 11% DV potassium, 5% DV vitamin B6 and 4% DV iron.
Sweet potatoes are an orange vegetable that can typically be found in the grocery store all year long. This orange food is yet another one that has many uses. Sweet potatoes can be roasted, mashed, baked, or added to soups, salads or pies.
Just like pumpkins, sweet potatoes are another food source high in carotenoid beta-carotene. With one cup of baked sweet potato with the skin on you consume 213% DV vitamin A, 44% DV vitamin C, 35% DV vitamin B5, 34% DV vitamin B6, and 20% DV potassium.
When you eat sweet potato without the skin you do lose some of the nutrients, so if you are looking to get all the nutrition you can from this vegetable, try eating it with the skin!
Tangerines are an orange citrus fruit and have a similar taste to mandarin oranges and oranges. Like a lot of foods on this list they too can be used in all sorts of dishes and recipes. Tangerines can be enjoyed raw, as is or added to smoothies, sauces, salads, salsa, cookies, cakes or even as part of chicken recipes.
This orange fruit is a good source of carotenoids beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. Nutritionally speaking when you enjoy one medium tangerine you’ll get 39% DV vitamin C, 13% DV vitamin A, 5% DV vitamin B6 and 4% DV potassium.
Turmeric is a root vegetable often used as a spice. This orange food has been used for centuries as it is touted for its healing properties. From a carotenoid perspective, turmeric is filled with zeaxanthin, lutein and a xanthophyll called curcumin. Curcumin is a carotenoid antioxidant understood to help manage or lower the risk of heart disease and help reduce general inflammation.
With one tablespoon of ground turmeric, you will get 15% DV iron, 5% DV vitamin B6 and 4% DV potassium. When ground, this spice can be added to roasts, chilli, vegetables, chicken, smoothies, lattes and soups.
Winter squash is an umbrella term that includes many orange vegetables, such as hubbard squash, banana squash, delicata squash and kabacha squash. No matter what winter squash you choose, you can look forward to cooking and eating it in several ways. For example, they can be roasted, pureed, baked, steamed, mashed or added to soups!
Each squash’s nutrition profile varies slightly, but they commonly contain carotenoids alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, violaxanthin and lutein. When it comes to nutrients, per one cup they typically have 23% DV of vitamin C, 11% DV of potassium and 10% DV of vitamin B6.
As you may be able to infer by now healthy orange foods contain benefits that go beyond the information on a nutrition facts label. Filled with vital nutrients plus antioxidants and carotenoids that help support general health as well as oral health.
When you enjoy these orange foods you can enjoy knowing that you are eating to help manage inflammation, fight off free radicals, manage heart disease risk and support strong bones among many other health-promoting aspects too!
Of the 21 foods listed, all contain vitamins A, C, and B6 and minerals potassium and magnesium. Plus, these foods can be eaten in a way that requires a lot of biting and chewing or can be slurped and sipped. So, they make a great addition to promoting general oral health, yet if you are having dental surgery these can be a solid part of a nutrition-packed soft foods diet.
All in all, I hope you found this all things healthy orange foods article valuable.
If you are looking for nutrition guidance to support your oral health or wondering what to eat before and after dental surgery, Dental Meal Plans is here to help. Head on over to the services page to what is offered or feel free to contact me.
Cheers to Healthy Orange Foods
Additional Orange Foods Resources