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Healthy Eating Jump-Start Day 14: Eat an orange vegetable

Audi Dela Cruz/iStockphoto

Have you made a resolution to eat better and lose weight? Follow our month-long program of daily nutrition tips, created by dietitian Leslie Beck to change your lifestyle for January - and beyond. And to get your fitness on track, try our personal trainer-designed Boot Camp 2012 program .

DAY 14: Eat an orange vegetable

Carrots, sweet potato and winter squash are loaded with beta carotene, an antioxidant linked to a lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Some of the beta carotene you eat is also converted to vitamin A in the body, a nutrient that helps maintain a healthy immune system.

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There's no official recommended intake for beta carotene, but experts maintain that a daily intake of 3 to 6 milligrams is needed to help prevent chronic diseases. Guess what? A medium sweet potato packs 16.8 milligrams of beta carotene, half a cup of carrot juice has 11 mg, half a cup of cooked carrots has 6.5 mg (half a cup of raw carrots has 4.6 mg) and half a cup of winter squash has 3 mg. So it's not hard to get your fill.

Try one of these suggestions:

  • Add a shredded carrot to an omelette, soup, green salad or pasta sauce.
  • Add baby carrots or sliced carrots to a curry or stir-fry recipe.
  • Add diced sweet potato to any soup (homemade or store-bought).
  • Serve roasted sweet potato wedges instead of roasted white potatoes.
  • Top cooked spaghetti squash, instead of noodles, with your favourite pasta sauce.
  • Enjoy puréed squash as a side dish at dinner. Top with maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon.

Want more information related to today's tip? Read on:

To live longer, pick your vegetables - and their colour - carefully

Go ahead, nuke those carrots

Missed earlier days? It's easy to get caught up.

DAY 13: Add ground flaxseed to your diet

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DAY 12: Eat one vegetarian meal

DAY 11: Pass on the salt

DAY 10: Plan next week's meals in advance

DAY 9: Eat a leafy green vegetable

DAY 8: Drink a cup of green tea

DAY 7: Snack on fruit

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DAY 6: Use a smaller plate

DAY 5: Eat more veggies

DAY 4: Practise eating slowly

DAY 3: Boost fibre at breakfast

DAY 2: Drink a large glass of water before each meal

DAY 1: Keep a food diary for the next seven days

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