The color orange is everywhere this time of year. Bright-orange pumpkins ready to be carved into grinning Jack-o-lanterns line neighborhood porches, and orange leaves bring color to the trees.

When I see pumpkins I think about roasted pumpkin seeds, a traditional family favorite I always made with our boys as they grew up.

Natural plant pigments called carotenoids give orange foods their color and also contribute important health benefits. Some types of carotenoids are converted by our body into Vitamin A. The non-provitamin A carotenoids help reduce some types of cancer and heart disease and improve urinary tract and prostate health.

Lutein and zeaxanthin, two of the non-provitamin A carotenoids, reduce risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, a leading form of blindness.

Eating orange-colored carrots really does protect eyesight!

To celebrate this time of year, include several of these great-tasting and healthy orange-colored fruits and vegetables in your weekly food choices.

Acorn or butternut squash: one cup provides twice the daily recommended amount of Vitamin A, plus good amounts of vitamin C and fiber. Roast squash in the oven, or purchase frozen squash for a quick and healthy side-dish or a great-tasting base for soup.

Carrots were mistakenly labeled high in sugar when in reality they're low in calories and carbohydrate, plus high in fiber.

A 2008 study in the Journal of Nutrition showed a 20% decrease in death from heart disease in people who consumed the highest amounts of antioxidants found in carrots.


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Sweet potatoes are a good source of several B vitamins, Vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. One of the oldest vegetables in the world, Columbus brought sweet potatoes to Europe.

Roast cut-up pieces of sweet potato in the oven to bring out their flavor.

Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, and also are high in fiber.

The fiber in oranges is especially important in lowering cholesterol levels. Peel and eat a whole orange instead of drinking orange juice, or include orange slices in a salad with mixed leafy greens.

Lynn Grieger, RD, CDE, cPT is a health, food and fitness coach in Manchester and online at www.LynnGrieger.com. Butternut squash soup is one of her favorites.