4 Whole Foods That Start With U

Looking for an extensive list of whole foods that start with the letter U? 

Look no further, we’ve got you covered!

Browse this list of 4 foods that start with U to get some new cooking inspiration, learn more about where each food comes from, and understand the health benefits of each food.

Let’s dive in!

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Pile of ube on display at a farmers market

1. Ube

Ube (also known as purple yam) is a starchy root vegetable that originated in Southeast Asia, where it is well-loved for its sweet, vanilla-like flavor.

It looks similar to a potato but has brown, bark-like skin with flesh that ranges from white with purple specks (similar to taro) to a deep violet color (like purple sweet potato). 

Ube’s rich purple color comes from anthocyanins, a group of plant pigments that protect against inflammation and may reduce the risk of heart disease (1, 2, 3).

Fresh ube is difficult to find in the U.S. but may be available at some farmers markets. Don’t confuse them with purple sweet potatoes, which have smoother, purple skin.

Look for frozen ube and ube products — like ube powder, ube extract, and ube jam — at Asian food markets, or purchase online.

Like other root vegetables, fresh ube can be mashed, baked, roasted, or fried. Ube extract, powder, and jam are perfect for adding a vibrant purple color to baked goods and desserts.

Two whole ugli fruit and one peeled in half to reveal the citrus segments

2. Ugli fruit

Ugli fruit (also called uniq fruit) is a hybrid citrus fruit — a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit — that originated in Jamaica but is also grown in some parts of the United States.

They have a reputation for being ugly (hence the name), with their misshapen appearance and wrinkled, greenish-yellow skin that is often mottled and scarred.

However, the skin is easily peeled to reveal juicy, light yellow-orange flesh that tastes sweet, tangy, and slightly bitter.

Ugli fruit can be difficult to find but may be available at some farmers markets and specialty produce stores while in season from December through April.

Enjoy ugli fruit on its own, peel and add the segments to salads and smoothies, or slice in half and squeeze out the juice to use in sauces and drinks.

Pile of green fresh ume plums in a wicker basket

3. Ume

Ume (Prunus mume) is a fruit closely related to apricots and plums. It was first cultivated in China more than 3,000 years ago and is now popular throughout East Asia, especially Japan (4).

It is a small, round fruit, about one inch in diameter, with bright green skin that transforms into a yellowish-orange color as it ripens.

Unlike most fruits, ume is extremely sour due to its high concentration of citric acid — a naturally-occurring acid found in citrus and other fruits (5).

For this reason, they aren’t typically consumed raw. Instead, they are pickled (called umeboshi) or processed into paste, syrup, jam, or alcohol.

Fresh ume can sometimes be found at Japanese and Korean grocery stores. Ume products, such as umeboshi, umeboshi paste, and ume vinegar can also be purchased online.

Use umeboshi or ume vinegar in vegetable stir-fries, rice dishes, meat marinades, and salad dressings. 

Pile of urad beans in a small wooden bowl on a white background.

4. Urad beans

Urad beans (also called black gram or black matpe) are a type of bean closely related to mung beans and adzuki beans (6).

They are relatively small — about the same size as mung beans — with black skin and a white hilum (the scar where a bean was once attached to the pod).

Urad beans are sold in several different forms: whole with skin (called black urad), whole without skin (called white urad), and split (with or without skin). You can also purchase urad flour, which can be used to make fried and baked goods.

One cup (200 grams) of cooked urad beans provides 14 grams of protein, 10 grams (36% DV) of fiber, 569 mg (12% DV) of potassium, and 3.6 mg (20% DV) of iron (7, 8).

In Indian cuisine, urad beans are often used to make Dal Makhani, but they can also be added to soups, salads, and rice dishes.

Look for urad beans or flour at Indian or Asian food markets or consider purchasing online here and here

Final Thoughts

From ube to urad beans, there are plenty of delicious foods that start with the letter U.

We hope this list has inspired you to be adventurous and try some new foods, or to gain a new appreciation for some of the foods you already eat every day. 

Comment below to let us know which of these foods are your favorites, and how you use them in the kitchen!

Amy Richter is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Missouri. She is an experienced nutrition writer and medical advisor for Healthline and Medical News Today.  Amy is passionate about all things food-related and enjoys translating complex science into easy-to-understand articles.

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