Foods with Beta Carotene | Vitamin A Sources
What is beta carotene?
Carotene is an anti-oxidant that is identified as an orange-red pigment found in certain fruits and veggies that are yellow, orange and dark green in color. Beta carotene is converted into vitamin A in our bodies.
A French study showed that adult women who were smokers and consumed had low beta carotene in their diets were more susceptible to lung cancer compared to those who had a carotene rich diet.
Excessive consumption of beta carotene foods can actually give the skin an unhealthy yellowish hue caused by a condition called carotenemia. Although, it can be subsided by simply lowering the amount of beta carotene in our diet, it’s not pleasant or healthy at all to have a yellowish skin hue.
How is beta carotene important in our bodies?
How is beta carotene important in our bodies?
- Prevention against cancer Beta carotene has cancer fighting properties that quench free radicals that cause oxidative stress as well as cancerous cells to develop.
- Heart healthy With its amazing anti-inflammatory properties, beta carotene helps prevent inflammations of the heart and heart walls caused by some cardio vascular diseases.
- To prevent macular degeneration As well as quenching free radicals, responsible for macular degeneration as well as cataracts, beta carotene also has anti-inflammatory properties that promote healthy eyes and reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
- To boost immunity Vitamin A is an essential and powerful anti-oxidant that enhances white blood cell function and resistance to infection and carcinogens, promoting mucus membrane health thereby improving immune function. Be sure to include foods with beta carotene in your diet for a strong healthy immune system!
Top 5 foods rich in beta carotene
Most foods rich in beta carotene are a deep orange in color. This color is because of the presence of beta carotene.
- Sweet potato This yummy starchy food contains the highest amount of beta carotene than any other food. Sweet potatoes with orange fleshed skin have approximately 21908.52 IU of vitamin A which is a whopping 438 percent of the Daily value recommended!
- Carrots Carrots scream beta carotene with their bright orange color! These slim orange beauties are rich in beta carotene as they contain high amounts of vitamin A which is a form of beta carotene. A half cup of cooked carrots has 671 mg of vitamin A, which is essential for good eyesight and healthy skin.
- Spinach Better to start adding fresh baby spinach to your diet because spinach contains about 377 percent of vitamin A of the daily value recommended for consumption. One cup of cooked spinach contains 18865.80 IU of vitamin A which is an excellent amount needed for a healthy immune system.
- Kale A cup of cooked kale contains 6693 IU of vitamin A which is133 percent of the Daily value recommended. Kale is a super food that contains numerous anti-oxidant nutrients and has essential anti-inflammatory properties. Steamed kale has cholesterol lowering benefits that reduce the risk of bad LDL cholesterol.
- Winter Squash A cup of baked winter squash contains 10707.15 IU of vitamin A which is about 214 percent of the daily value. Winter squash is a rich source of carotenoids, especially beta carotene. This starchy food has anti-inflammatory properties that prevent against cardiovascular disease. Steaming winter squash before consuming is the best way to benefit from this super food with beta carotene.
Fast Facts about Beta Carotene!
- Beta-carotene is an anti-oxidant!
- Beta-carotene is just one of the 50 different kinds of carotenoids found in food!
- Overdose on beta-carotene supplements can lead to carotenodermia, a yellow discolouration of skin. Symptoms disappear with the discontinuation of supplements.
- You get more beta-carotene from juicing a carrot than from eating it raw! Surprising, huh? This is because when you eat a carrot raw, most of the beta-carotene is eliminated from the body along with the fiber. When juiced, more beta-carotene is absorbed!
Other foods rich in beta carotene
Cantaloupe One cup of cantaloupe contains 5411.20 IU of vitamin A which is about 108 per cent of the daily value. The light orange flesh of cantaloupe is a rich source of carotenoids, especially vitamin A.
Green collards Leafy green collards contain 489 mg of vitamin A which is about 308 per cent of the daily value. These cruciferous vegetables are also a rich source of calcium and vitamin K.
Apricot These orange colored babies are rich in beta carotene and fibre. Nutrients in apricots help fight off free radicals, which cause macular degeneration, among other ails. The fibre is also good for preventing harmful LDL cholesterol. One apricot contains 674.10 IU of vitamin A. A certain research carried out shows how women who had a relatively higher intake of vitamin A reduced their risks of developing cataracts by 40 per cent compared to those who had low vitamin A diets.
How to add foods rich in beta carotene to your diet
Did you know that beta carotene can’t be destroyed by cooking or canning? In fact, when foods rich in beta carotene, for example carrots, are stewed, fried or even juiced, the beta carotene is released better. What’s more is that cooking facilitates efficient absorption of the anti-oxidant into your digestive system. This means that you’ll actually get more of the powerful anti-oxidant when you cook the carrots!
Fresh salad Toss a handful of freshly steamed sweet potato, 6 baby carrots and spinach to your salad menu and crunch through a delicious nutrifying meal!
Eat raw All of us at one point or another have crunched a baby carrot raw, maybe with a dash of salt sprinkled over, haven't we? Carrots are one of the perfect foods with beta carotene that you can freely munch away raw.
Juice 'em up Did you know that juicing carrots can make a wonderful breakfast drink? Replace that fizzy drink or soda for a vitalizing immune boosting carrot drink to enjoy the benefits of beta carotene daily!
Photos sourced from freedigitalphotos.net and Wikimedia commons. Photos edited by healthmunsta.
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