Tuesday, March 29, 2011

ORANGE You Glad I Didn't Say Banana?

Written by Heather Hopkins
Part of the National Nutrition Month initiative

We all know the joke…and as elementary as it may seem, it can actually give us some nutritional insight.  In honor of the ADA’s “Eat Right with Color” initiative and National Nutrition Month, let’s talk about the importance of the color orange and how it relates to eating well.  Here, we won’t be talking about oranges as a fruit, but the color orange in fruits and vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes.  Carotenoids are a fat-soluble compound and are found in “orange” foods as beta-carotene, a Vitamin A precursor.  According to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (2010), beta-carotene is converted by the body for functional use to retinol, and is essential to human vision.  It also plays a role, as retinoic acid, in processes like cell differentiation and bone growth. 

In order to absorb beta-carotene properly, it needs to be ingested with fat-ingestion enhances the absorption. However, dietary intake still comes more highly recommended than supplementation.  In conjunction with 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, adequate consumption of beta-carotene to maintain vitamin A levels is entirely possible.

While yellow is a close relative of orange on the color wheel, when it comes to beta-carotene consumption, yellow bananas-while good sources of other nutrients-simply aren’t what you’re looking for.   Add some orange to your plate with more servings of carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and squash, and you’ll be consuming more beta-carotene in no time! Now ‘orange you glad I didn’t say banana?’

The Natural Standard Research Collaboration.  (2010, Dec. 1).  Beta-carotene.  Retrieved from:  http://www.mayoclinic.com 

[Untitled photograph of fruit].  Retrieved February 26, 2011 from:  http://farm4.static.flickr.com  

Like this post?  Read more Eat Right With Color posts!  

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