Sources of Beta Carotene

Beta carotene, belonging to the carotenoid family, is a vital nutrient for the human body. It helps in maintaining and improving eyesight, skin health as also immunity boosting and cancer prevention. It helps destroy the harmful cells, and inhibit cellular mutation. Beta carotene is known to help prevent heart disease too. Beta carotene sources are available aplenty in nature. It is present in many fruits and vegetables, but particularly found in greater concentration in the following:

1. Carrots

Carrots are among the most popular and widely known beta carotene sources. They are versatile foods, which can be eaten raw, in salads, pickled, or mixed in with rice dishes or vegetables. Many people love carrots because they are great snack options, and good stomach fillers too. A ripe, bright hued carrot can provide a whopping 680% of your daily beta carotene nourishment.

2. Sweet Potatoes/ Yams

Yam or sweet potato is another rich source of beta carotene. It is highly recommended to eat the yam or potato with its skin on, if maximum nutrition benefits are to be reaped. A yam-medium in size- cooked with its skin on can provide about 250% of a person’s daily vitamin A intake.

3. Kale

This is a leafy vegetable, quite the equivalent of spinach. A portion of Kale contains near about 40 calories. It is packed with beta carotene though, containing about 190% of daily intake needs.

4. Spinach

A magic vegetable, spinach can provide upto 380% of your daily vitamin A needs. A cancer fighting leafy vegetable, it is an excellent beta carotene source. Like the carrot, it is a versatile vegetable that can be eaten in many forms.

5. Turnip Leaves

The leaves of turnips are extremely nutritious, even more so than the turnip tuber. It is packed with nutrients like beta carotene, as also calcium, folate and vitamin K. It is a source of about  200% the daily beta carotene requirement.

6. Oranges-

These delicious fruits are a highly concentrated source of beta carotene. It is this very nutrient that gives the fruit its orange color, though of course natural beta carotene sources come in a variety of colors like white, pink, dark green, etc. Oranges are loved by almost everyone. They can be eaten in the form of marmalade, consumed in juice form, used in jellies, ice candies, etc.

7. Winter Squash

Squashes prepared in the winter are all rich sources of beta carotene. Those containing pine nuts, pumpkins, hubbards, butter nuts, etc can provide upto 150% of your daily beta carotene intake.

8. Collard Greens

These are leafy vegetables with a dark blue and green tinge to them. They have a slightly smoky flavor, and are a cousin of the mustard greens. They can provide upto 120% of the required daily beta carotene content.

9. Dietary Supplements

These days tablets are available for almost every nutrient. Dietary supplements like for example, cod liver oil contains a rich amount of vitamin A. Though not natural, pharmaceutical companies manufacture suplements which are good beta carotene sources.

It must be ensured that one includes sufficient beta carotene in one’s diet. It is a very vital nutrient which aids in a number of bodily functions like tissue repair, mucous formation, muscle regenration, fetal development and cancer prevention. It is also important however, that excessive consumption be avoided. Because excess intake of beta carotene can cause joint pains, hypertension, enlarged spleen and liver, and severe seizures that at times can be fatal. Vitamin A intake is usually restricted during pregnancy because it can lead to birth defects in the baby.

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