Eat a Rainbow – Orange Foods Health Benefits And Recipes

Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)

This week as part of our ‘Eat a Rainbow’ series we are going to examine more closely the nutritional benefits of including and enjoying a variety orange coloured fruit and vegetables as part of your diet to help support health and fertility.

It goes without saying that diet is an important area to focus on when trying to conceive (TTC)  and preparing your body for fertility treatment. It is important to make sure both eggs and sperm are in the best possible health, adopting healthy habits is one of the first steps that should be taken when preparing for fertility treatment – for both partners.⁠

The idea of ‘eating the rainbow’ really applies here – Eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables (plant-based foods) across the colour spectrum is a good way of optimising your nutrient and antioxidant intake, thus supporting your general health and fertility too. These plant-based foods include fruit and vegetables in a variety of forms – they could be fresh, frozen, cooked, pureed, canned or dried.

Some examples of healthy orange fruit and vegetables you may wish to include :

Squash, peppers, oranges, satsumas, apricots, carrots, papaya, sweet potatoes, mango, persimmon, pumpkin. Ginger and Turmeric and other herbs and spices also are a beautiful orange colour too and boast numerous health benefits.

How do Orange plant-based food help our general health?

Plant based orange foods provide an array of nutrients including flavonoids, lycopene, potassium, folate, vitamin C and beta carotene. The beta carotene and other carotenoids have a potent antioxidant activity. Free radicals are highly unstable and set off a process called oxidation which can have harmful effects on the every cell in the body. We mentioned last week in our ‘Green’ colour of the rainbow article that antioxidants help to neutralise free radicals before they cause damage to the cells in your body, including the cells that form tissue in the reproductive system and thus help to protect the egg and sperm cells from free radical damage. (see back to last weeks ‘Green’ article for more on antioxidants and free radicals).

Beta carotene gives the orange spectrum foods their vibrant colour and is thought to help to support immunity, keep our heart healthy, fight against dementia and certain cancers. It is important in collagen formation, linked to lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and very important in eye health. Carotenoids are the main antioxidants found in orange vegetables and fruits. Carotenoids are important for healthy eyes, mucous membranes and skin. Orange foods also contain the carotenoid Lutein, which helps to maintain healthy vision.

And what about fertility?

In relation to fertility, beta-carotene (which the body converts into vitamin A) helps to produce the female sex hormones (oestrogen and progesterone). These hormones are important for ovulation and for the regulation of the menstrual cycle. Beta-carotene is the plant-based precursor to vitamin A. It may protect us from conditions related to oestrogen dominance, for example breast cysts and heavy menstrual bleeding. When it comes to male fertility, food rich in antioxidants including beta carotene is associated with improving sperm quality in men.

Interesting reading:

Albert Salas-Huetos, Mònica Bulló, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Dietary patterns, foods and nutrients in male fertility parameters and fecundability: a systematic review of observational studies, Human Reproduction Update, Volume 23, Issue 4, July-August 2017, Pages 371–389.

A couple of  ‘Orange’ recipes to try:

 Easy Mango sorbet

Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)

Mango is great nutritionally. They contain a good amount of vitamin c, beta carotene, potassium, folate and fibre. Mango also contain vitamin B6, iron, a little calcium, zinc and vitamin E – all great for general health and fertility.


500g Mango (peeled and cut into chunks)

2 tsp lemon juice

How to make your sorbet:

  • Peel and cut the mango into chunks. Place into a blender/food processor with the lemon juice and blend well.
  • Pour into a container (suitable for putting into the freezer) and place into the freezer
  • Freeze for 4 hours (as this method does not involve using an ice cream maker you will need to bring out of the freezer every 45 mins-1 hour and give it a good stir)
  • Leave overnight in the freezer and enjoy the next day!

Stuffed Squash with a tasty Bean Stew

Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)

Makes 2 portions – double up as required


2 squash of your choice

1 onion – chopped

1 tsp of olive oil or rapeseed oil

1 clove of garlic crushed

200g of chopped tomatoes (can be fresh or canned)

200g of haricot beans

A handful of fresh basil and oregano

Seasoning to taste

Optional (100g of grated cheese of your choice to sprinkle over the top)


  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
  • Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic and cook gently for a couple more minutes.
  • Add the beans and tomatoes along with the fresh herbs and a pinch of seasoning and allow to cook gently for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cut the tops off the squash and scoop out the seeds.
  • Spoon the tomato, bean and herb mixture into the squash (sprinkle with grated cheese if you wish) and place into the preheated oven for around 40 minutes.
  • Enjoy!
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