In addition to eating plenty every day, health professionals recommend eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables because it’s the best way to get all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients you need. Each color group of produce is rich in specific nutrients that help form a well-balanced diet. No single fruit or vegetable – not even superfoods – can provide all of the nutrients you need. Since Halloween is in just a few weeks, we thought we would dig a little deeper on the color orange. In this edition of Surprising Stars, we will discuss why the color orange is important for our health, share some ways to eat more orange fruits and vegetables, and get clear on colors in the Guiding Stars algorithm.
Many fruits and vegetables get their bright red, yellow, and orange hues from plant pigments called carotenoids. When you eat foods containing carotenoids you get protective health benefits from their role as antioxidants in the body. They have strong cancer-fighting properties. Beta carotene, for example, is a carotenoid often found in orange fruits and vegetables that our body converts to vitamin A. It’s essential to vision, helping your eyes adjust in dim conditions, and normal growth and development. Carotenoids also have anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits. They are sometimes associated with cardiovascular disease prevention.
Almost all orange fruits and vegetables contain some carotenoids, but for the most concentrated sources choose apricots, carrots, mangoes, papayas, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.
Ways to Eat More
Here are some healthy ways to eat more orange fruits and vegetables:
- Use pumpkins and squash in soups.
- Grill orange fruits and vegetables.
- Dice or shred orange fruits and vegetables, add them to rice and pasta dishes.
- Use pureed pumpkin or squash in smoothies.
- Stir fry orange fruits and vegetables.
- Substitute baked sweet potato fries and baked sweet potato for traditional potato versions.
- Snack on carrots or add them to salads.
Artificial Colors and Guiding Stars
Foods with artificial colors and dyes, such as some cereal, colored pasta, and macaroni and cheese lose a star in the Guiding Stars algorithm. In response to the growing evidence demonstrating the negative effects of artificial colors on children, the Guiding Stars Scientific Advisory Panel decided to debit foods containing artificial colors by 1-star rating. There is no need for artificial colors to be in foods: they are there strictly for cosmetic purposes. There are many natural and safe food dyes that can be used in their place. Guiding Stars hopes to encourage food manufacturers to make the switch and improve the nutritional quality of their products. Artificial colors are also a marker of lower quality foods containing lower quality ingredients and chemical additives. Guiding Stars aims to promote the health of all of its consumers, especially the youngest ones.