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Don't let the statement 'orange is the new black' fool you. The color orange is associated with fun, joy, creativity, and health.
Additionally, the color's vividness makes the food stand out more. A colorful plate is considered super healthy, and orange-hued foods add to the benefits. This article will show you what orange foods you can add to your diet for a health boost and great taste.
What makes food orange?
First, let’s talk about the pigment that paints foods orange. Beta-carotene is a plant pigment that gives orange foods their vibrancy.
It's derived from the Latin word 'carota,' referring to carrots. Beta carotene is a part of the chemical family of carotenoids that color various plants, fungi, and foods.
The molecule not only bestows rich orange-red colors but also acts as an antioxidant. Many studies have shown antioxidants’ critical function in preventing cell damage by reducing oxidative stress.
What's more, beta carotene turns into Vitamin A in your body, per Mount Sinai. Yes, excessive vitamin A can be toxic, but fortunately the body only converts the amount it needs.
Moving on, let's bite into a variety of popular foods that are orange.
1. Navel Oranges
Undoubtedly, the orange is the most popular fruit that is orange. Navel oranges are a winter variety and perhaps the brightest of all citrus siblings. Unlike a blood orange which is red in color, the navel orange is bright orange.
It's curiously named 'navel' orange because of the human navel-like indentation at the stem's opposite side. This is a result of genetic mutation.
You won't have to worry about picking seeds out of this fruit as it doesn't have any. Hence, it's cultivated via grafting, making all navel oranges genetic clones of the Brazilian parental tree.
Enjoy it raw, in salads, or baked. Its zest gives a kick to bakery products. Sadly, navel oranges aren't used much for juicing as the juice turns bitter upon oxygen exposure. But, a few squeezes in marinades or sauces add a deliciously tangy flavor.
2. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes may be brownish outside, but the insides pack vibrant tangerine flesh. Some people confuse them with ham, but they aren't the same. In fact, sweet potatoes aren't potatoes at all; they're related to the flower, morning glory.
A staple food of many cultures, you must've seen sweet potatoes on your Thanksgiving dinner table. Furthermore, health experts suggest eating it all year round due to its impressive nutritional profile. However, you can also drink sweet potatoes blended in a power-packed smoothie. Even its leaves, stems, and shoots are edible.
3. Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is a popular vegetable closely resembling a pumpkin. However, it's tall instead of fat and has a hollow stem.
Butternut squash is a winter variety, but thanks to its longevity, you can find it all year round. It's a fruit, but we cook it like a vegetable. People love its soup or use it in risottos, casseroles, and curries.
Its pulpy flesh is tangerine-colored with neatly packed seeds in a pocket. Scoop them out and roast them for a crunchy snack.
4. Curry Powder
Heading to the spice cabinet, curry powder is a rich blend of cumin, ginger, turmeric, and black pepper. Some varieties also include cinnamon and garlic.
Originating from the Indian continent, curry powder makes your taste buds explode with flavors. You can get hints of sweet, spicy, earthy, and warm flavors. However, you'd be surprised to know that it's not a staple Indian spice. The British invented it to get a full Indian cuisine experience.
Additionally, turmeric grants curry powder yellow-orange tints. Curry powder is often used as a seasoning or in marinades.
5. Orange Peppers
The bell pepper family can probably make a rainbow with its green, yellow, red, and orange varieties. Orange bell peppers are one of the most commonly available capsicums.
Despite being called a pepper, it has a slightly sweet flavor and thick flesh. Additionally, orange peppers have a shorter shelf life than green ones, so better use them fast.
Just cut out the seeds and serve orange peppers raw in salads or sauteed alongside main dishes.
Giving you some Halloween vibes, pumpkins are a versatile food. Much like butternut squash, they're a fruit grown on every continent apart from Antarctica. Moreover, Indigenous tribes grew them way before corn and beans were cultivated.
No Halloween is complete without pumpkin carving. Consequently, the US alone grows over 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins annually. It's another all-edible orange fruit famously used in pies, soups, desserts, and of course, decorations.
7. Cheddar Cheese
Cheddar cheese is one of the most commonly known cheeses. The cheese got its name from its hometown, Cheddar village in Somerset, England. The village's cows had a rich beta-carotene diet; hence their milk turned the cheese orange. Today, it's naturally pale yellow or white, but cheesemakers traditionally add orange coloring.
Did you know Queen Victoria received a giant cheddar cheese wheel as a wedding gift? Yes, cheddar cheese has been quite a royal novelty.
Furthermore, gooey cheddar cheese in pasta, casseroles, and burgers makes for heavenly combinations.
Most carrots are orange, but they do come in other colors. Sometimes, eating them can even make your skin a yellow-orange color! Afghanistan introduced these orange vegetables to the world over 5000 years ago.
Research shows that carrots are great for vision, thanks to high beta-carotene levels. You may not know this, but carrots have seeds. They aren't traditional seeds and are classified as schizocarp. Hence, you never noticed them. Moreover, the seeds are used in herbal medicines for their aromatic properties.
9. Egg Yolks
Among most fruits and vegetables, egg yolks are an orange animal product. Egg yolks are sometimes yellow, but health experts say you should eat the darker ones. That's because orange egg yolks contain more vitamins and omega-3s than lighter ones.
The color difference is due to the hen's diet. Beta carotene-rich diets create darker, more nutritious yolks, whereas vegetarian feed produces light-colored yolks.
However, overall the egg's protein and fat content stay the same. Additionally, chefs say orange yolks taste better with a more vibrant flavor.
Apricot falls under the Rose family umbrella and looks like a mini peach. We still don't know where they originated from. Some people argue apricots were first produced in Armenia; others link them to Perisa and ancient China.
Here’s a fun fact: Apricots are great for hydration. They make for a great post-workout snack due to their high water and potassium content. Potassium also acts as an electrolyte replenishing your body and maintaining fluid balance.
You can eat them fresh; even dried apricots are relished as delicious jelly-like snacks.
From the melon group, we have Cantaloupe, a refreshing summer fruit. Cantaloupe was named after the Italian town, Cantalupa, where they were grown in the 1700s. The New World's founder, Columbus, introduced it to North America; now, this popular fruit is grown all over the globe.
Australians call cantaloupes 'rockmelon,' and some American varieties are called 'reticulated muskmelon.'
Moreover, it's hard to tell if a cantaloupe has ripened. The fruit indicates that itself by detaching from vines at harvest time. They can be eaten raw, in salads, in soup, or as dessert.
12. Chanterelle Mushrooms
Chanterelle are gold-orange, gorgeous mushrooms shaped like a flower, shell, or funnel. They're one of the most eaten wild mushroom varieties.
Due to their high demand and color, some folks call them the golden child of the mushroom world. That’s why chanterelle mushrooms are a prized find for mushroom hunters.
This fungus has a meaty, slightly peppery flavor, and its fragrant aroma may remind you of an apricot. The versatile Chanterelle mushrooms pair well with pasta, meat, cheeses, eggs, and numerous vegetables.
13. Cape Gooseberry
Now, it’s time for some exotic orange foods. Cape gooseberry is a South American fruit native to Columbia. It's also known as a golden berry due to its glowing skin.
Cape gooseberries look like a Chinese lantern, thanks to their color and papery skin. You can even unwrap it like candy and eat it as it is or dip it in some melted chocolate.
Its sweet and sour taste is like a mix between a cherry tomato and a gooseberry. Cape gooseberry is an excellent trifle and cake ingredient. Additionally, you can squeeze the fruit into jams, marmalades, purées, and jellies.
14. Duck Sauce
Don't be alarmed; duck sauce isn't actually made from ducks. The orange-flavored condiment is just served with roasted duck meat in various Chinese eateries. Apart from duck, it's often partnered with deep-fried items like chicken, wontons, and spring rolls.
This thick jelly-like condiment is made from soy sauce, vinegar, and dried fruits. All the complimentary ingredients give it a fruity, sweet-sour taste.
Duck sauce can be made at home, but you'll find an authentic experience in Cantonese restaurants.
Adding another citrus fruit to our list, clementine is a mandarin-sweet orange hybrid. The name honors its French discoverer, Clément Rodier.
This seedless fruit has adorable nicknames like 'Cuties' and 'Sweeties'. And hear this; clementines are the smallest orange variety. They're almost perfectly round with an easy-to-peel skin and honey-sweet taste.
Clementines are popular salads and dessert additions. Furthermore, you can add them to bakery goods for an enhanced taste.
In more rare food groups, gac is a reddish-orange melon bursting with beta carotene. Gac has roots in Vietnam, but now it’s being cultivated in Australia and California as well. Despite having numerous eye, skin, and reproductive health benefits, it’s still not known by many.
However, locals have used gac for years due to its medicinal properties. Traditionally the fruit is combined with rice to make a bright-orange dish called xoi gac. Gac is great celebratory food in its native lands and a popular addition to wedding menus and New Year feasts.
Also known as pawpaws or papaws, papaya is a tropical fruit with black ball-like seeds and soft, orange flesh.
This succulent fruit is completely safe when it's fully ripened but look out for papain in its unripened state. Papain is a protein-digesting enzyme that is usually beneficial but, in excess, can damage your esophagus.
Thanks to its quick protein digestion, papaya is considered a natural meat tenderizer.
Persimmons look like tomatoes if they were orange. This sweet orange fruit originated in China and Japan. Even the best American varieties today are grown via grafted Japanese cultivators.
Persimmons have a unique sweet and cinnamon-like spicy taste. Some persimmons varieties are mushy soft, while others have firm, delicious flesh.
Furthermore, the fruit makes amazing pies, cakes, and puddings. You can also make jams, marmalades, and smoothies from persimmon purée.
Peaches are a juicy, stone fruit with orange flesh housing a dark-colored seed. Crack open the seed, and you may find an almond in there.
Peaches are related to roses and grow from a gorgeous pink flower. As it matures into a fruit, the colors shift to a stunning orange-peach-pink gradation.
Did you know ancient Romans called peach a Persian apple? Additionally, you'll find more than 2000 different varieties of peaches in the world.
Turmeric is a renowned orange spice from a ginger-related plant's root. Curcumin is this spice's most active compound, which works wonders for muscle soreness and inflammation. It also lowers cardiovascular risks and improves your memory, per Cleveland Clinic.
That's why many ayurvedic and traditional healers not only eat turmeric but also use it as medicine. However, watch out for stubborn yellow-orange stains left by turmeric.
Dalandan is an exotic citrus fruit found mostly in tropical climates during winter. Sipping on dalandan cocktails on tropical beaches is one way to unwind.
Its bright green skin may make you question its place on the list, but the insides are vivid orange. Be warned; sour unripened dalandans might make you cringe. But thankfully, mature ones are pretty sweet.
Add dalandan to salads and baked goods, or use it for marination.
22. Kabocha Squash
You may know kabocha squash as Japanese pumpkins. One of the most prominent Japanese squash varieties, kabocha, graces the market in the fall.
Kabocha squash has a hard shell-like casing that protects the squishy flesh inside. You might need a sharp knife and some force to cut this fruit.
Taste-wise, it's creamy, sweet, and yummy. Kabocha recipes include soups, roasted snacks, cheesy fritters, and unique side dishes.
Kumquats would look like orange eggs if they grew on a tree. In fact, a kumquat is just the size of a grape. This oval-shaped citrus fruit grows to just 1-2 inches but packs immense flavor.
If its name sounds unfamiliar, that's because it combines two Chinese words. 'Gam' means gold, and ‘gwat’ refers to tangerines.
What's more, you don't even need to peel it. Just eat it whole and relish its citrusy taste.
Maprangs are Southeast Asian fruits resembling a mango from the outside and plum from the inside. That's why they're also called mango plum, marian plum, Thai plum mango, and maprang mango.
They've also been marketed in Britain as "plangoes,' but the name never took off. It usually arrives in late spring carrying a sweet mango-like fragrance.
Maprang is a versatile fruit used in pickles, salads, and curries. Thanks to its slightly sour flavor, you can use it as a substitute for sour lime or tamarind.
25. Orange Cherry Tomatoes
You may be aware of red cherry tomatoes, but did you know they also have an orange cousin? Orange cherry tomatoes are also called Sungold due to their vibrant color.
Orange cherry tomatoes come in summer, adding a pop of color to any food. If you’re out of cherry tomatoes, you can easily use orange ones as an alternative. However, in terms of sweetness, they surpass cherry tomatoes.
It's better you have them fresh off the vine for the most promising flavor. Recently, orange cherry tomatoes have been frequent additions to party trays and salads.
26. Orange Watermelon
Cubed watermelon might be man-made, but orange watermelons are completely natural. They contain beta-carotene, whereas red watermelons have lycopene. Additionally, the pigments grant health properties to their respective carrier fruit.
Orange watermelons usually have a tiger-stripe pattern on their skin. While orange watermelons may have the same green casing, they’re sweeter than the red ones. That’s why they’re accurately called ‘tendersweet’ as well.
Don’t confuse them with tamarinds; tamarillo is a small edible fruit nicknamed tree tomatoes. It originally hails from South America, but New Zealand popularized and gave the fruit its name.
Now, many cultures enjoy this tangy-sweet fruit. However, the taste varies, and you can identify it from the tamarillo’s skin. If it’s a larger reddish-orange tamarillo, expect it to be sour. The small amber ones are sweeter and best for desserts, but you better take their bitter skin off before use.
Use tamarillo’s succulent flesh in smoothies, curries, and sauces, or cook it to make an egg or chicken topping.
28. Squash Blossom
Squash blossoms are not a fruit or vegetable; they’re edible flowers grown on any summer or winter squash plant. These yellow-orange blossoms are also referred to as zucchini flowers.
Squash blossoms taste like squash and stay from late spring till early fall. They may seem like fancy food, but you can easily enjoy squash blossoms at home. To be safe, gently open the flower first to see if there are any bugs. Then you can eat them raw, fry them or stuff them with cheese.
29. Red Lentils
Red lentils are tiny, fast-cooking legumes that you can make in just 20 minutes. They become mushy when cooked, making them ideal for soups and curries.
Not only do they give your food an attractive color, but red lentils also provide a delicious nutty flavor. Like other lentils, these legumes pack a nutritional power punch providing delightful taste and health benefits.
Red lentils are high in polyphenols, potentially granting them antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, cardio, and neuroprotective properties. They’re also cheaper than green lentils making them easily affordable.
30. Salmon Roe
Known as red caviar, salmon roe is a seafood delicacy but with a big price tag. These underdeveloped salmon eggs are taken from inside a salmon. Extracting the delicate red-orange eggs intact is difficult, hence the high price.
On the bright side, salmon roe has one of the highest levels of omega-3s in marine animals, reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of heart diseases.
Salmon roe has a creamy, slightly salty, and fishy taste that some people may not appreciate immediately. However, spices and herbs can significantly enhance the flavor.
31. Orange Habanero Pepper
Bringing the heat, orange habanero peppers are green peppers that turn bright as they mature. These peppers are shaped like a small lantern and grow up to 2.5 inches long.
Habanero peppers are one of the spiciest, and orange ones lie in their middle hotness range. But compared to the red peppers, orange habanero peppers are still mild.
These bright peppers have a tropical, fruity yet smoky flavor, so chefs love them for their varying taste palates.
32. Mamey Apple
Mammee, mammee apple, tropical apricot, Mammea americana, and South American apricot are all the names of mamey apples.
It's an irregularly shaped fruit with brown skin and gold-orange flesh. Moreover, some people find its insides weird due to its seed placement.
Mamey apple tastes like a mix between apricots and passionfruit, tinged with a tangy, berry flavor. Jamaicans cook it with sugar and wine and serve it as a dessert.
33. Orange Swiss Chard
Swiss chards are subspecies of beet known for their broad, delicious leaves. They've rainbow-colored stems ranging from yellow to bright orange.
Orange swiss chard tastes like spinach with hints of cabbage. However, unlike spinach, they don't wilt quickly as you cook them. You can cut orange chards to use in dips, pickles, and salads.
Annatto is a reddish-orange food coloring made from achiote trees' seeds. Along with annatto, 70% of natural food colors are derived from this tree.
Some people may confuse annatto with paprika due to its similar powdered appearance. However, paprika is made from spices, whereas annatto is made from fruit.
Furthermore, annatto is used as a condiment to enhance flavor and provides a floral, nutty aroma. While it's mostly healthy, it may trigger IBS symptoms in some people.
Uni is a rarely known Japanese delicacy. Some people think it's sea urchin's eggs but uni is actually the creature's gonads.
Uni is the soft, orange portion of the spiny sea urchins and is considered an aphrodisiac. It's thick, creamy, buttery in texture, and has a strong sea scent. Uni's taste is mostly briny, but it depends on the urchin's gender, habitat region, and freshness.
Moreover, it's extremely expensive because professional scuba divers obtain it wholly from natural habitats.
Do you have anything we should add to this list of orange foods? Let me know in the comments?