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Nutrients in Red and Orange Vegetables

By Natalie Stein

Eating a variety of vegetables may help you control your weight and lower your risk for heart disease. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, healthy adults on a 2,000-calorie diet should get at least 2 1/2 cups per day of vegetables, including 5 1/2 cups per week of red and orange vegetables. Red and orange vegetables are full of essential nutrients, and you may benefit from increasing your intake.

Background

All cooked, raw, canned and frozen varieties of red and orange vegetables count toward meeting your recommendations, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Most red and orange vegetables are nearly fat-free and low in protein, with about 1 to 2 g per serving. Nonstarchy vegetables are lower in carbohydrates, and a red pepper has 10 g of total carbohydrates. A large carrot, which is a starchy orange vegetable, has 37 g of carbohydrates.

Dietary Fiber

Red and orange vegetables are good sources of dietary fiber. A red pepper has 3.4 g of fiber, a sweetpotato has 5.9 g, a carrot has 2 g and a cup of cherry tomatoes has 1.8 g. Healthy adults should get at least 14 g of fiber for each 1,000 calories in the diet, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Fiber lowers your cholesterol levels and may help you control your weight because it is a filling nutrient.

Vitamins

Vitamin A is essential for healthy vision and a strong immune system, and some of the best sources are orange vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash and pumpkin. Red peppers, tomatoes and tomato paste are excellent sources of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant and an essential nutrient for proper wound healing, according to the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. Red peppers are good sources of folate, and carrots provide vitamin E.

Potassium

Red and orange vegetables are good sources of potassium, which is an essential nutrient for regulating your blood pressure. Healthy adults should get at least 4,700 mg per day, and a quarter-cup of tomato paste, half-cup of tomato puree and cup of tomato or carrot juice each have at least 500 mg of potassium. Most fresh red and orange vegetables are low-sodium, but processed products, such as tomato sauce or juice, may be high in sodium from added salt.

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