Diet is a very important aspect of our lifestyle. It can boost our energy, keep the disease away and provide many of the vitamins and minerals we need. Doctors recommend a complete and diverse menu, with plenty of fruits and vegetables. The ones rich in beta carotene are among the best.
Specialists often mention red-yellow-orange fruits and vegetables as these contain a high amount of beta carotene. Read below what is beta carotene, why is it so important for our health, what are its benefits, top 5 sources of beta carotene and some information about beta carotene supplements.
What is beta carotene and why is it necessary for our body?
The word “beta carotene” has its origins in the words “beta” (a Greek word) and “carota” (from Latin) which means “carrot”.
Discovered in 1831, beta carotene is in fact a yellow-orange, sometimes red-orange pigment that colours fruits and vegetables, a carotenoid and antioxidant with a lot of benefits for our health.
The important thing about this pigment is that our body converts it into vitamin A. This is an essential vitamin for our health and, therefore, the more beta carotene rich foods we eat, the higher our chances to be healthy.
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Beta carotene vitamin – what are its benefits?
A powerful antioxidant, beta carotene is beneficial in a lot of diseases and conditions. There are numerous studies that tried to establish its exact effects. Some conclusions are more relevant than others, but one thing is for sure: a diet rich in beta carotene can improve our health.
It is important to mention that the below information refers only to dietary beta carotene, not supplements forms. There is not sufficient data for giving official verdicts or protocols just positive effects observed during some trials.
Beta carotene prevents dementia and the aging process
Over the years, specialists have found a correlation between the beta carotene intake and slowing down the aging process and the cognitive decline.
Beta carotene vitamin improves immunity and fights against viruses
As a high source of vitamin A, beta carotene is important also for our immune system. It seems vitamin A from beta carotene increases the white blood cells and our ability of fighting colds, flu and viruses, such as HPV virus (Human Papiloma Virus).
Orange-yellow-red foods for a healthy skin and strong eyesight
A balanced diet, rich in beta carotene foods could be very beneficial for a healthy skin and vision. Beta carotene vitamin lowers inflammation and reduces the risk of vision loss or of macular degeneration.
Beta carotene could reduce LD cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular disease
Some studies made on rats have found dietary beta carotene vitamin E could reduce the LDL cholesterol, lowering also the risk of heart disease.
A high intake of antioxidants, including beta carotene vitamin, helps our respiratory system
If you are struggling with bronchitis, asthma or some other respiratory problems, you should consider having a diet rich in beta carotene. Studies suggest a high intake of this particular antioxidant has benefits in this case too.
A beta carotene diet a day keeps the rheumatoid arthritis away
Some other studies have found people who are deficient in vitamin C and beta carotene are more prone to rheumatoid arthritis. Eat high beta carotene and vitamin C foods and talk to your doctor about taking beta carotene vitamin supplements.
Top 5 sources of beta carotene
If you would like to change or just adjust your diet a little and add a lot of beta carotene foods, here are the top 10 natural sources of beta carotene.
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A medium cooked sweet potato provides 200% of the Daily Recommended Amount of vitamin A/Beta Carotene. Besides beta carotene, sweet potatoes are also rich in carbs, vitamin C, manganese, iron and vitamin B6.
One cup of cooked carrots provides 120% of the DRA of vitamin A. The good news is that carrots are a great food to introduce in a lot of tasty and healthy recipes. For example, you can cook a Quick and Easy Veggie Food Recipe, Green Peas with Vegetables or choose a delicious Cauliflower Food Recipes – all with carrots in the “ingredients list”.
Spinach and other dark leafy greens are a great source of beta carotene. Besides, they are also rich in vitamin C, folate and iron. As far as beta carotene, you should know 1 cup of cooked spinach offers 105% of the Daily Recommended Amount of vitamin A.
Spinach and Vegetables Recipe here.
Another great beta carotene vegetable on this list, butternut squash is healthy and also very tasty. Specialists say that 1 cup of cooked butternut squash provides 87% of the DRA of vitamin A. Also a great source of vitamin C and vitamin E, but low in calories, butternut squash should be often included in weight loss diets.
If you want a delicious, gluten, dairy and sugar free dessert with squash, try this recipe of Roasted Pumpkin.
The 5th beta carotene richest food is cantaloupe. For example, 1 cup of cantaloupe cubes gives us 33% of the daily dose of beta carotene vitamin. Besides this antioxidant, cantaloupe contains vitamin K, B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin C and omega 3. Some studies showed cantaloupe can boost the thyroid function.
What is the daily recommended amount of beta carotene?
There is not sufficient data to establish an official DRA for beta carotene, but doctors recommend no more than 6-15 mg vitamin A a day (10.000-25.000 UI) for adults and 3-6 mg for children.
These numbers are for food, but also for supplements.
Consult your physician when taking beta carotene supplements
Beta carotene is generally safe to take, but when taken in high doses it can be dangerous for smokers and for men who have prostate problems.
You should consult your doctor whenever you want to take beta carotene supplements for therapeutic reasons, such as HPV virus or heart diseases.
Conclusion: A diet rich in beta carotene is great for our health
Red-yellow-orange fruits and vegetables are a great source of beta carotene, a pigment that turns into vitamin A and helps us being healthier.
Beta carotene is good for immunity, cardiovascular health, fights against viruses, diabetes and provides all the necessary nutrients for a healthy skin and eyesight. Beta carotene vitamin is safe to take under the recommended doses but when you decide to take it in the supplements form and in a higher dose, always consult your physician.