You may have heard the term Beta Carotene in association with healthy foods and benefits. But just what is it and why is it important to include rich sources of Beta Carotene in your everyday diet?
Beta Carotene is a carotenoid found in colorful fruits and vegetables that are common in the American diet. Although typically associated with yellow and orange vegetables, Beta Carotene rich foods can be found in white, red and pink hues as well.
The reason that many healthy diets include foods that are rich in beta carotene is because of the many benefits that it provides.
1. As a provitamin A compound, Beta Carotene, when consumed can be easily converted into retinol, an active form of vitamin A.
2. A powerful antioxidant, Beta Carotene protects the body from cancer-causing free radicals.
3. Strengthens the body’s immune system. Eating foods rich in Beta Carotene will keep you from getting sick as easily.
4. Promotes cell regeneration to prevent disease.
5. May help to protect the reproductive system. Though not fully determined, it is believed that Beta Carotene aids in the protection of the female reproduction organs.
Good sources of Beta Carotene include:
Sweet potatoes, Carrots, Squash, Tomatoes, Peaches, Papaya, Mangoes, Bell Peppers, Spinach, Kale, Broccoli, and Turnips
Although no specific disease is linked to a Beta Carotene deficiency, tissue damage as the result of a diet low in Vitamin A can lead to disease. Even if you eat a well balanced diet, there are certain lifestyles that affect Beta Carotene levels, these include:
• Smoking depletes Beta Carotene levels, so if you must smoke, make sure your diet is rich in fruits and vegetables. Vitamin supplements for beta carotene should be taken with caution, and you should consult your physician about the use of beta carotene supplements while smoking.
• Drinking alcohol, especially to excess has been found to cause low beta carotene levels.
• Eating margarine has been found to cause lower levels of beta carotene.
• A diet low in fruits and vegetables. If you don’t eat these foods, you will have low levels of Beta Carotene.
• Certain medications lower Beta Carotene levels. Always read medication information and consult your physician if you have any concerns. Be sure to continue your medication as recommended by your doctor.
• Health conditions such as problems with heart, pancreas, liver or bladder.
Many of my recipes include healthy sources of Beta Carotene. If you are interested in trying some of these mouth-watering meals, check out my recipes in the Healthy Cooking category of the Members Only section. But you have to be a member to get access, so go ahead, sign up now and learn to love food and enjoy fun and healthy cooking without ever having to count a single calorie.
~ Karen Ficarelli
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