While we know that eating foods from all the colors of the rainbow (Skittles do not count — sorry!) is the key to health, there are some colors that attract our eye more than most, especially depending on the season. When the air gets crisp and the leaves turn to beautiful shades of reds and oranges, it seems like fall’s bounty at the market does the same. Think of butternut squash, pumpkin, carrot, and persimmon — they all come in season during that time.
Orange-hued fruits and vegetables have considerable inflammation-fighting powers thanks to the antioxidant-rich carotenoids pigments that give them their rich color. Among other things, having too much inflammation in our bodies can lead to issues like digestion problems, mood swings, chronic fatigue, and diseases like cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. These issues are all linked to an overabundance of “oxidative stress, which is what happens when there’s an unbalance between the free radicals that our bodies produce and the antioxidants needed to combat their effect. That’s why we should get our hands on as much antioxidant-rich, bright, and orange produce as we can if we want to mitigate the effects of free radicals and reduce symptoms of inflammation.
If you’re ready to get rid of inflammation once and for all, here are ten must-eat orange foods, plus recipes for you to try:
Sweet potatoes are one of the best of all fall foods — they’re filling, comforting, and so tasty. Thankfully, indulging in those sweet babies for months on end is a great idea. As an orange-hued tuber, sweet potatoes are a good source of b-carotene and anthocyanins. These antioxidant compounds have anti-inflammatory properties as well as anti-cancer and antidiabetic activities. Who would’ve thought that a simple potato had all that power?
Try these Cinnamon Turmeric Sweet Potatoes, Chipotle Maple Sweet Potato Burgers, or this Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese With Spinach, Sesame Orange Sweet Potato, and this Sweet Potato Noodle Salad With Peanut Dressing for an antioxidant-rich dinner. In addition, check out these 15 Must-Make Vegan Sweet Potato Dinners That Are Perfect For Fall.
Oranges are famous for their high vitamin C content that boosts our immune system in the winter months. However, did you know that they’re also an inflammation-fighting food? It all comes down to the flavonoids present in their juicy flesh. Having a glass of orange juice can neutralize the pro-inflammatory effect of a high-fat meal and lower your cholesterol levels.
The best way to reap all the beneficial anti-inflammatory properties of oranges is to eat them raw, but you can include them in a variety of dishes. Try this Orange Sweet Potato Smoothie, Orange Mint Jalapeño Salad, and this Satsuma Orange Chickpea Salad. You can also indulge your sweet tooth with these Chocolate-Dipped Candied Oranges and this Orange Almond Cake.
Did you know that carrots, like other orange-hued vegetables, are one of the richest sources of vitamin A and beta-carotene? These two compounds are incredible allies when it comes to fighting inflammation as they both play a role in scavenging free radicals. While raw carrots are a great snack, cooking actually increases the availability of the inflammation-fighting compounds.
There are so many ways to enjoy carrots but one of our favorites is in soups. Try this Carrot Avocado Ginger Soup and this Carrot-Orange Soup. These Baked Carrot Fries and these Roasted Spiced Carrots are also an incredibly tasty option. Last but not least, you have to try this Roasted Balsamic Carrot Hummus.
It turns out pumpkins aren’t only good for PSLs and fall decoration — this seasonal squash has heaps of amazing health benefits! One of them is their ability to fight inflammation thanks to the many antioxidants they contain. B-carotene, lutein, polysaccharides, phytosterols, unsaturated fatty acids, and peptides are all compounds present in pumpkin that makes it a powerful food when it comes to eradicating inflammation at the source. These phytochemicals are all involved in mitigating the effects of free radicals in our bodies. Pumpkin is popular in traditional medicine for its antidiabetic, antihypertensive, antitumor, antibacterial, and antihypercholesterolemic effects as well. If that wasn’t enough — pumpkin has anti-fatigue properties and can enhance exercise performance!
Not familiar with pumpkin as an ingredient? Check out these 10 Ways to Cook With Pumpkin Flesh and Seeds. Pumpkin is versatile so don’t be afraid to experiment in the kitchen — have this Cinnamon Roasted Pumpkin With Tahini Yogurt and Hazelnut for breakfast, this Pumpkin and Spinach Curry for lunch, and this Creamy Pumpkin Lasagna for dinner! These Pumpkin Burgers are pretty amazing too!
Sweet orange bell peppers are not only a juicy and crunchy snack, but they’re also nutritious and filled with inflammation-fighting properties. Did you know that peppers contain large quantities of two types of phytochemicals? Their beautiful color comes from carotenoid pigments (b-Carotene or vitamin A) that also give it antioxidant power. Flavonoids, the second kind of phytochemicals present in peppers’ flesh, have been shown to the ability to fight the effect of free radicals as well. Both compounds protect us against inflammation causing oxidative damage to cells and can prevent the development of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and Parkinson’s.
If you’re looking to include more bell peppers into your diet, try having these Cheesy Cauliflower Rice Stuffed Peppers, and these Lentil and Pumpkin Tagine Stuffed Peppers for dinner tonight. This Eggplant and Bell Pepper Caponata, Onion and Bell Pepper Masala, and this Caribbean Jerk Chili are also delicious options for any meal.
This beautiful fruit resembles a small pumpkin and may be unassuming, but its health benefits are considerable when it comes to fighting inflammation. This fall fruit’s phytochemistry is quite impressive as it contains carotenoids, flavonoids, anthocyanidin, and catechin — all of which are important free-radical scavenger types of antioxidants. Persimmons are also highly nutritious — they are rich in magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and fiber!
If you want to enjoy all the benefits of persimmons, try this Autumn Oatmeal Breakfast Bake With Figs and Persimmons, Mint-Infused Persimmon Pudding, and this Chestnut Persimmon Crepe Cake. You can also include them in savory dishes like this Asian Pear and Persimmon Stuffed Acorn Squash and Persimmon and Basil Cream Galette.
This exotic fruit is an amazing antioxidant-rich and tasty orange food. Not only are papayas packed with nutrition — they’re rich in vitamin A and C, calcium, magnesium, and fiber — but they contain a compound called isothiocyanate that fights harmful free radicals. Papain, an enzyme present in its flesh is another beneficial component with strong antioxidant properties. Altogether, consuming papaya regularly can protect you from inflammation and many types of cancers.
You can eat papaya on its own or try this Papaya and Coconut Yogurt Breakfast for a healthy start to your day. Papaya can also be enjoyed for lunch, try this Tremendous Papaya Salsa, Spicy Papaya Salad With Smoky Roasted Peanuts, or this Bulgur With Papaya and Pomegranate for a nice healthy meal.
A ripe, juicy mango is one of the best snacks out there — if you’ve never had one, you should definitely give it a try. This exotic fruit is rich in antioxidant compounds called carotenoids. These phytochemicals prevent inflammation in our bodies by fighting free radicals. Carotenoids are so powerful that they’ve been found to prevent cancers, chronic diseases and reduce hypertension. Mangoes are nutritious too with their high amount of vitamin A, C, and E, as well as potassium, iron, and fiber.
You can have mangoes on their own for breakfast or for a snack. They’re also great in dishes like this Mango, Chili, and Lime Quinoa Salad, Forbidden Rice and Mango Salad, and these Raw Mango Coconut Basil Wraps for lunch or dinner. Of course, mangoes make for delicious desserts as well. Try this Mango Sorbet With Banana and Pineapple and this Mango Sticky Rice. You won’t regret it!
This bright and vibrant melon is not only a hydrating and nutritious snack but it can also help you fight inflammation. It contains alkaloids and flavonoids, powerful antioxidants that have been shown to reduce oxidative stress in the human body — that’s the process that ultimately creates inflammation in tissues. These bioactive compounds are free-radical scavengers and have been shown to have a beneficial impact on preventing diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. Cantaloupe is also an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.
Enjoy cantaloupe as a snack or try this Cantaloupe Rose Smoothie Bowl With Blueberry Cream and this Kale Melon Smoothie. It’s also delicious as a dessert like in this 2 Ingredient Cantaloupe Ice Cream
Red lentils, also called masoor dal, actually give a beautiful orange hue to dishes once they’re cooked. Lentils are a great inflammation-fighting food as they contain more than 20 phenolic compounds — those are chemical compounds that fight the free radicals that cause inflammation in our bodies. They’re also packed with b-vitamins, iron, selenium, and fiber which makes them a highly nutritious food. Lentils are incredibly rich in protein as well — they have the third-highest level of protein of any legume, nut, soybeans, and hemp! Even though red lentils are usually used to make traditional dal soup and curried dishes, you can also use them in chilis, vegetable soups, and stews.
We recommend you give this Red Lentil Tikka Masala and this Thai Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Curry a try. You can also make these High-Protein Red Lentil Patties With Tomato Sauce or this healthy Mexican Quinoa Pizza With Red Lentil Tomato Chili for an antioxidant-rich dinner.
Want to find out more about inflammation-fighting foods and healthy recipes? Here are a few articles that might interest you:
- 10 Lesser-Known Alkaline Foods to Help With Inflammation
- 5 Easy Ways to Incorporate Anti-Inflammatory Foods in Your Diet
- 5 Steps to Put Out the Fire of Inflammation in the Body
- An Anti-Inflammatory Diet Check-List That Can Transform Your Life
- 7 Anti-Inflammatory Power Foods for Arthritis
- Why Orange and Yellow Fruits and Vegetables Pack a Nutritional Punch!
- 10 Uncommon Sources of Antioxidants You Never Knew
- 15 Antioxidant-Rich Vegan Recipes to Help You Embrace Purple Food in 2017
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