Orange, not just for Halloween

Written by on April 1, 2015

Happy Spring, Moguls!!

When I write these blog posts, I try to include a mix of more common and not so common foods. The objective being, to encourage you who are already making healthy choices to continue to do so; at the same time, I know how much healthier it is to add a wide variety of nutritious foods to your culinary repertoire. I want to share what I know with you.

Research has proven time and again that consuming more fruits and vegetables protects us from many preventable diseases and infections. Every single color tells the story of the health benefits of each fruit or vegetable. The color of a piece of produce possesses will alert you to an array of certain antioxidants within the food. All of those beautiful colors are designed to attract us, take heed! Take vitamin A for example, also known as retinol, it’s carotene compounds (found in egg yolk, butter and cream) are converted by the body into vitamin A (retinol). One particular form of vitamin A called retinal, aids in transmitting light sensation in the retina of the eye. That’s why carrots are so good for eyesight.

Foods with naturally occurring yellow and orange pigments are incredibly powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-aging tools. Eating foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, eggs (especially organic/locally sourced) and squash will provide loads of beta-carotene which helps to regulate the immune system. Because of its chemical make-up, it’s helpful to add some fat to your sweet potato-containing meals. Enjoy the full beta-carotene benefits by roasting sweet-potato cubes coated with a little coconut oil. It’s a fat-soluble nutrient so adding as little as 3-5 grams of fat per meal significantly increases the uptake of beta-carotene found in sweet potatoes. I love making cinnamon walnut sweet potatoes. The oil rich nuts and sweet creamy potatoes combine and significantly increase the amount of bio-available beta-carotene.

Conduct an experiment; compare the yolk of an insect-pecking, soil-scratching, pasture munching hen to those of the “free-range” and factory-farmed ones, the difference would be clearly visible. You’d find that yolks from homegrown eggs are darker orange, fuller and thicker with tougher shells protecting them. All this comes from the hen’s well balanced and highly nutritious diet.  Orange yolks are an indication of xanthophylls. Xanthophylls are natural plant pigments found in many fruits and vegetables. You may have heard them called carotenoids. It’s often thought that beta-carotene, one of the more well-known carotenoids, is responsible for giving yolks the orange pigment that folks associate with carrots.

Add a raw carrot to lunch and take advantage of its high level of alpha- and beta-carotene, the antioxidants that help fight oxygen-related damage in the body. A balance between free radicals and antioxidants is necessary for proper physiological function. When free radicals take over the body’s ability to regulate them, oxidative stress follows. Free radicals have an adverse effect on fats, proteins, and DNA, triggering a myriad of diseases. Butternut squash is an excellent source of both alpha- and beta-carotene. Carrots are also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two plant pigments that help prevent cataracts.

Orange=B6, think of that as some crazy math equation. Solve it and you win superior brain and nervous-system functioning!! Woo, hooo! But seriously, if our B6 intake is poor, we may be more prone to depression. Researchers have found that, when compared to the total population, the risk of depressed mood is higher in people with lower levels of vitamin B6 in their diet. Recently it has been found that there may be a link between B6 deficiency and risk of development for attention deficit disorder (ADHD), thus strengthening the link between the possible widespread importance of B6 for brain and nervous system support. Like squash? Try this recipe.  Steam cubes of squash. Let cool then, whisk plain yogurt with smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Toss with squash with some thinly sliced green onion and chopped parsley. Because of its role in blood cell growth and protein metabolism, vitamin B6 also helps our immune system produce antibodies to fight disease. A medium sweet potato baked in its skin has 25 percent of your daily needs, and ½ cup of mashed acorn squash has 19 percent.  Enjoy Moguls!

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