Beta-carotene is an organic red-orange pigment found in fruits and vegetables. But why would you want to eat foods rich in beta-carotene?
Research shows that beta-carotene is an incredibly powerful carotenoid and antioxidant with many benefits to your health. It works as a precursor to vitamin A when needed, and when there is enough vitamin A in your body, it acts as an antioxidant—protecting cells from dangerous free radicals.
Research has shown that beta-carotene may have positive benefits for those suffering from the following ailments:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Respiratory disease
- Macular degeneration
- Various skin conditions
To get more beta-carotene, include the following foods that are rich in beta-carotene in your diet.
BETA-CAROTENE FOOD #1: SWEET POTATO
Sweet potato contains 11,509 μg of beta-carotene per 100 grams. It is a rich source of dietary fiber and many essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin D, iron, magnesium, potassium, and manganese.
Sweet potato is a versatile vegetable that can be cooked and spiced in many ways. Baked, grilled, sautéed, or fried, this vibrant vegetable can be sweet, spicy, or savory, and pleases almost any crowd.
For a fun way to add sweet potato to a meal, make home-made baked sweet potato fries. Cut into desired shape, coat in an oil of your choice, salt, and spices, and spread out on a baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
BETA-CAROTENE FOOD #2: CARROTS
Carrots improve eyesight—and that’s no myth. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant which protects the eye from free radical damage in the form of light.
Beta-carotene turns into vitamin A which helps the eye convert light into a signal that can be read by the brain, making it possible to people to see under conditions of low light. In certain areas like Nepal or India, children may even go blind due to vitamin A deficiency.
Carrots contain 8332 μg of beta-carotene per 100 grams, which is the equivalent of about two small carrots.
BETA-CAROTENE FOOD #3: DARK LEAFY GREENS
Don’t be fooled by the dark green color of leafy greens. Spinach, kale, mustard greens, and collard greens are all excellent sources of beta-carotene—but the red-orange pigment is concealed by the green pigment chlorophyll—another powerful antioxidant.
One cup of cooked spinach contains 11,318 μg of beta-carotene, the same amount of cooked kale contains 10,625 μg of beta-carotene, and mustard greens contain 10,360 μg per cup.
Dark leafy greens are an excellent source of many essential vitamins, minerals, and important antioxidants which wipe out free radicals that may have invaded the body, posing threat for inflammatory diseases and cancer.
As if you needed another reason to get more greens in your diet!
TWEETABLEOne cup of cooked spinach contains 11,318 μg of beta-carotene Click To Tweet
BETA-CAROTENE FOOD #4: BUTTERNUT SQUASH
100 grams of butternut squash contains 4570 μg of beta-carotene. Butternut squash is low in calories and high in nutrients making it a great side dish and alternative for potatoes.
It can be enjoyed in many ways—baked, boiled, sautéed, or grilled. Not to mention a delicious butternut squash soup which takes a matter of minutes to prepare, and about 45 to simmer.
When you eat butternut squash, you benefit from its fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and manganese.
BETA-CAROTENE FOOD #5: CANTALOUPE
Cantaloupe is incredibly low in calories and fat, but you get 2020 μg of beta-carotene in 100 grams of this sweet juicy treat. You’ll also benefit from plenty of vitamin C and potassium as well as many other essential vitamins and minerals.
Cantaloupe is delicious eaten by itself, but it can be added to a fruit salad, a fresh salad, or a smoothie.
BETA-CAROTENE FOOD #6: APRICOTS
100 grams of fresh apricots, the equivalent of 3-4 fruits, contains 1094 μg of beta-carotene. Dried apricots provide the same benefits as fresh ones, but they often have added sugars, so be sure to get all-natural dried fruit with no added sugar.
Dried apricots are an excellent food to eat when you’re suffering from constipation because they contain a lot of fiber. They are also rich in minerals like iron, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus.
TWEETABLE100 grams of fresh apricots contains 1094 μg of beta-carotene Click To Tweet
BETA-CAROTENE FOOD #7: BELL PEPPERS
Sweet red peppers contain 1624 μg of beta-carotene per 100 grams. They contain several important phytochemicals and carotenoids—beta-carotene included—and provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Bell peppers contain capsaicin—a compound found in abundance in hot chili peppers—which studies show can lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, control diabetes, and reduce inflammation.
Sweet red peppers can be eaten fresh, roasted, or grilled. They can be added to a salad, a pizza, or a stir fry. They’re low in calories, high in nutritional value, and incredibly versatile!
BETA-CAROTENE FOOD #8: BROCCOLI
Broccoli is one beta-carotene food you should never skip out on. It has so much to offer in nutritional value and antioxidant activity that it would be a crime to shake your head at these little green trees. In 100 grams of broccoli, you get 920 μg of beta-carotene.
Add broccoli to your daily diet, and you’ll benefit from anti-cancer, cholesterol reducing, bone strengthening, digestive health, and liver detox benefits.
The unique mixture of nutrients in broccoli have earned this vegetable the superfood label—so eat this superfood a few times weekly to max out on all that it has to offer.
TWEETABLE100 grams of broccoli contains 920 μg of beta-carotene Click To Tweet
BETA-CAROTENE FOOD #9: SPIRULINA
Spirulina is the most nutrient-dense food available for human consumption—so it’s not surprising that it’s also the richest in beta-carotene—ten times more concentrated than carrots.
Spirulina is blue-green algae made up of 70% plant protein. Because of its rich nutrient profile, it is used as a supplement. Spirulina works to detoxify the liver, regulates cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels, lowers inflammation, boosts immunity, improves brain function, increases strength and endurance, and may help control allergies.
The best thing about spirulina is that it’s so easy to add to your diet. It comes in many forms including powder and tablets, so you can add it to a smoothie or other recipe, or you can simply pop this nutritious pill once a day!
WRAP-UP: FOODS RICH IN BETA-CAROTENE
Foods rich in beta-carotene should be included as part of your daily diet. When your body needs it, the beta-carotene you consume turns into vitamin A. When your body has enough vitamin A, the antioxidant activity of beta-carotene can save your cells from free radical damage, preventing inflammatory disease and cancer.
People who eat diets rich in fruits and vegetables have lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and many inflammatory diseases. So, go for the greens, oranges and other vibrantly colored fruits and veggies to get a wide variety of phytonutrients and antioxidants which kick those free radicals in the behind!
What are some of your favorite beta-carotene foods? Let us know in the comments below!
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