Color Your Food ORANGE & YELLOW

You can download a copy of the ORANGE & YELLOW hand-out HERE.

The Color Your Food Class on ORANGE & YELLOW was held at Amazing Heart Farm on July 19th, 2012. The class was lead by Sara Tower and she has offered to share her notes for the session for those who weren’t able to attend:

  • The word carrot is derived from a family of pigments known as carotenoids. In plants, carotenoids absorb blue light for photosynthesis and protect chlorophyll from photodamage.
  • Many orange fruits and vegetables get their pigment from beta-carotene. Generally, the greater the intensity of the orange color of the fruit or vegetable, the more beta-carotene it contains.
  • Beta-carotene is one of more than 600 compounds in the carotenoid family, with colors ranging from pale yellow to bright orange to deep red. Other major carotenoids include alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
  • Alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin are converted by our bodies into vitamin A, which is essential for normal growth and development, strong immune system functioning, and healthy eyesight.
  • Beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and lutein are the dominant carotenoids in oranges. Except for pink grapefruits, most citrus fruits do not contain beta-carotene (though they are an excellent source of vitamin C and folate, and they help the body absorb non-heme iron).
  • High carotenoid intake has been linked with decreased risk for postmenopausal breast cancer and for cancers of the bladder, cervix, prostate, colon, larynx, and esophagus.
  • Alpha-carotene may help to significantly lower the risk of lung cancer, while beta-cryptoxanthin has been show to affect chronic joint inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.
  • All carotenoids are fat-soluble, and absorb better in our bodies when eaten with small amounts of fat; eat your carrot sticks with hummus, or mash your sweet potatoes along with some non-dairy butter.

Most yellow foods get their distinctive hue from zeaxanthin and lutein.
These two antioxidants are the only carotenoids found in the retina of the eye. Together, they work to help prevent diseases such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

  • Zeaxanthin and lutein are also highly concentrated in dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, turnip greens, and collard greens.
  • Although the yolk of chickens’ eggs have a high concentration of lutein, the antioxident originates in plants; the feed of commercially raised layer hens is supplemented with lutein to deepen the color of egg yolks and give the skin of broiler chickens a yellow tinge. While eggs do provide the fat necessary to absorb this carotenoid, they also contain unhealthful cholesterol and unnecessary animal protein. Plant-based fats (including nuts and seeds) are healthier and just as effective for absorbing luetin.

Opulent ORANGE & YELLOW Foods! (and how to eat them):

Yellow apples * Apricots * Acorn squash * Orange/yellow beets * Bananas * Butternut squash * Cantaloupe * Carrots * Corn * Grapefruit * Lemons * Mangoes * Nectarines * Oranges * Papayas * Peaches * Pears * Orange/yellow peppers * Persimmons * Pineapple * Pumpkin * Rutabagas * Spaghetti squash * Sweet potatoes * Tangerines * Orange/yellow tomatoes * Yellow watermelon

  1. Add orange or lemon zest to main dishes and use orange juice in sauces and dressings
  2. Try making sweet potato, carrot, or banana frie
  3. Add dried apricots, mango, pineapple, or papaya to your oatmeal
  4. Snack on orange wedges, peaches, pears, apricots, nectarines, and tangerines
  5. Make a vegetable curry using spices such as turmeric, garam masala, cumin, and coriander
  6. Freeze overripe bananas into bite-sized chunks to use in fruit smoothies and baked goods
  7. Mash rutabagas along with or instead of your mashed potatoes
  8. Snack on carrot sticks and orange or yellow bell peppers with hummus
  9. Roast pumpkin, acorn, or butternut squash and stuff with your favorite vegetable stuffing

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