20 Beta Carotene Foods And Its Health Benefits
The richest sources of beta carotene are green, yellow, and orange leafy fruits and vegetables such as lettuce, sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and cantaloupe. In general, the richer and more vibrant the color of a fruit or vegetable, the higher its beta-carotene content tends to be.
Beta carotene is a plant pigment responsible for imparting vibrant colors to fruits and vegetables. It's classified as a provitamin A carotenoid, signifying the body's ability to convert it into vitamin A (retinol). To obtain the necessary amount of this component, there's no need for medication or supplements. A wide variety of foods containing beta-carotene are readily accessible. Here, we've assembled a list of the top 20 foods that are abundant sources of beta-carotene.
Apricots stand as one of the best beta carotene high fruits which have a light yellowish-orangish color with a mild tart taste. A mere 100-gram serving of this fruit provides a whopping 1090 mcg (microgram) or 10% of the daily value (DV) of beta carotene that gets converted into vitamin A within the body.
Packed with many essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, apricots have multiple health benefits, including improved skin, eye, and gut health. Fresh or dried, apricots are easy to add to salads, yogurt, and main meals. If you're used to eating plums and peaches, apricots can be an optimal way to change up your routine.
2. Bok Choy
A 100-gram serving of Bok Choy (raw), commonly known as Chinese cabbage, delivers 2681 mcg or 25% of the DV of beta carotene along with 243 mg (milligram) of vitamin A. It has a flavor between water chestnuts and spinach but is a bit sweeter, with a moderately peppery undertone.
Similar to other cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens, bok choy is loaded with health-promoting nutrients, including a wide range of vitamins and minerals, encompassing calcium, iron, vitamin K, magnesium, and phosphorus. These nutrients may help promote strong bones, benefit the thyroid, reduce cholesterol levels, and even potentially help prevent cancer.
Just 100 grams of broccoli (cooked, boiled, drained, without salt) contains 929 mcg of beta carotene. This green vegetable is also a rich source of vitamin C (107% of the DV) and vitamin K (97% of the DV). Raw broccoli also contains decent amounts of several B vitamins and manganese.
Packed with an array of essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, broccoli offers a wide range of health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, promoting good heart health, bolstering the immune system, and maintaining stable blood sugar levels. This green veggie can be savored both raw and cooked.
4. Butternut Squash
Butternut squash, with its pear-like shape, beige skin, and vibrant orange flesh, derives its deep orange color from beta carotene. 100 grams of this winter squash (raw) delivers 4230 mcg of the nutrient, equivalent to 39% of the DV. When baked without salt, this percentage increases slightly to 42%.
In addition to beta carotene, butternut squash is rich in potassium, with 352 mg per 100-gram raw serving, contributing to better blood sugar management. It adds flavor to meals while being high in fiber and low in calories. Interestingly, butternut squash is technically a fruit, despite often being seen as a vegetable.
A 100-gram serving of cantaloupe contains 2020 mcg of beta carotene, providing 19% of the DV. This portion also delivers 21% of the daily value (DV) for vitamin A and 44% of the DV for vitamin C, while other nutrients remain at less than 10% of the DV.
Cantaloupe melon offers a plethora of health advantages, thanks to its high water content, abundant antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients can have a positive impact on specific conditions like asthma, blood pressure, and digestion. Additionally, cantaloupe is celebrated for its ability to enhance skin and hair health.
This crunchy, tasty, and highly nutritious root vegetable is a particularly rich source of beta carotene. A mere 100 grams of carrots contain 8285 mcg of beta carotene, which equates to 77% of the DV. Carrots are also a good source of vitamin K and vitamin B6 and have a modest content of other essential nutrients.
Studies have linked carrots to a multitude of health benefits, including a reduced risk of cancer, lowered cholesterol levels, effective weight management, and enhanced eye health. These versatile root vegetables are available in a variety of colors, such as red, orange, white, yellow, and purple.
A 100-gram serving of collard (cooked, boiled, drained, without salt) contains 4,510 mcg of beta carotene. This same portion is a rich source of vitamin K, supplying 388% of the Daily Value (DV). These greens are also rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and manganese and offer modest amounts of calcium and vitamin B6.
The nutrients present in collard greens offer numerous potential health benefits, including the promotion of bone health, support for liver function, and aid in digestion. Moreover, they have the potential to mitigate the risk of cancer, enhance sleep quality, and improve the health of hair and skin.
100 grams of raw kale contains 2,870 mcg of beta carotene, which equates to 27% of the DV. The same serving provides 207 kilojoules of food energy and a large amount of vitamin K. It is also a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, folate, manganese, thiamin, and riboflavin.
Consuming kale in its raw state is the optimal method for maximizing its nutrient content, as cooking can lead to a significant loss of nutrients. Regularly including kale in your diet can promote eye health, aid in weight management, support heart health, reduce cholesterol levels, and provide a source of anti-cancer compounds.
Apart from their flavour-rich profile, mangoes are loaded with rich amounts of beta carotene, with a 100-gram serving providing 640 mcg, equivalent to 6% of the daily value. They are also a good source of folate, and several B vitamins, along with vitamins A, C, K, and E, all of which contribute to boosting immunity.
Studies have linked this sweet, juicy summer fruit and its nutrients to several health benefits, including improved immunity and digestive health. Its low-calorie density makes it an ideal choice for people seeking to reduce their calorie intake while still feeling satisfied and full.
Microgreens, distinct from shoots or sprouts, represent a powerhouse of nutrition and rank among the healthiest foods available. Abundant in vital nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, they play a crucial role in promoting overall well-being.
It's not widely known that microgreens are rich in beta carotene. Depending on the specific variety, microgreens can provide up to 12 mg of beta carotene per 100-gram serving. Additionally, they house other valuable carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin, known for their potent antioxidant properties.
11. Passion Fruit
A 100-gram serving of passion fruit provides 743 mcg of beta carotene, which equates to 7% of the DV. This tangy, bright, tropical fruit is also rich in key nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, and fibres. It is loaded with antioxidants that boost blood flow.
The fruit tastes like a cross between mango, pineapple, and peach. Passion fruit boasts a wide range of health benefits, including aiding in blood sugar management, supporting heart health, enhancing immune function, alleviating stress and anxiety, and promoting eye health.
A 100-gram serving of raw peas contains 449 mcg, equivalent to 4% of the DV for beta carotene. When cooked, the beta carotene content increases to 470 mcg for the same serving. Peas serve as an excellent source of vitamins C and E, as well as zinc and various antioxidants that boost your immune system.
Additionally, they contain valuable nutrients such as vitamins A and B, along with coumestrol, which help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.
While peas are nutrient powerhouses, it's important to note that they are relatively high in carbohydrates, so it's advisable not to go overboard with your starch intake.
One cup of sliced plums (165 grams) contains 314 mcg of beta carotene, which is 3% of the DV. Despite having less beta carotene than some fruits, plums are abundant in vitamin C, which is crucial for your immune system, blood vessel formation, and muscle development, as well as for fighting infections.
They also contribute to enhanced eye health, anxiety reduction, a reduced risk of heart diseases, lower blood pressure, protection against cellular damage and cancer, and relief from constipation. Their low-calorie content makes them an ideal choice for individuals following a diet or aiming to reduce their caloric intake.
Pumpkin, which belongs to the squash family, is another vegetable rich in beta-carotene. 100 grams of uncooked pumpkin delivers 3100 mcg (29% of the DV), which drops to 2100 mcg (19% of the DV) when cooked. If you don't like raw pumpkin, consider incorporating it into a pumpkin smoothie.
Moreover, the vegetable contains vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, and iron, all of which strengthen your immune system. Adding pumpkin to your healthy diet can help your immune cells function better to keep off germs and speed healing when you get a wound. They come in different shapes, colors, and flavors and are cultivated for different purposes.
15. Red Bell Peppers
The yellow, orange, and red colors of sweet peppers come from beta carotene. The intensity of color varies depending on the amount of carotene present in each variety. Red bell peppers, for instance, have the most beta carotene, with 1624 mcg per 100 grams, or 15% of the DV.
Low in calories, bell peppers are rich in vitamin C and a plethora of antioxidants, making them a superb inclusion in a nutritious diet. These colorful veggies offer a host of health advantages, including enhanced eye health and prevention of anemia.
16. Romaine Lettuce
Romaine lettuce is one of the best salad vegetables rich in beta carotene, offering 2,460 mg per 1-cup serving (47 grams). Beyond this valuable nutrient, these vibrant greens also provide a substantial 4,090 IU of vitamin A in the same serving, a key element for maintaining smooth skin, healthy hair, and strong bones.
This crispy and crunchy vegetable serves as an excellent source of vitamin K, a crucial nutrient vital for blood clotting, promoting wound healing, and supporting overall bone health. In fact, studies have shown that romaine lettuce surpasses other crisphead lettuce varieties, like iceberg lettuce, in its mineral content crucial for maintaining optimal bone health.
A mere 100 grams of raw spinach delivers 5,630 mcg of beta carotene, and this figure increases to 6,290 mcg when the spinach is cooked, boiled, or drained without salt. Spinach emerges as a nutritional powerhouse, delivering generous amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, manganese, folate, and iron.
Spinach is considered a superfood due to its rich nutrients and low-calorie content. This leafy green not only contributes to stabilizing blood glucose levels but also plays a pivotal role in reducing the risk of cancer, supporting overall cancer prevention efforts, and fostering strong and healthy bones.
18. Sweet Potato
Sweet potato serves as a rich source of beta carotene, particularly when it's baked. A mere 100 grams of raw sweet potato boasts an impressive 8,509 mcg, equivalent to 79% of the DV. When baked with the skin (without salt) this figure surges to 11,500 mcg, covering 107% of the DV.
The intensity of the orange hue in sweet potatoes directly corresponds with their beta carotene and essential antioxidant content. Consequently, these root vegetables serve as a natural dietary food source against vitamin A deficiency and play a significant role in mitigating the risks associated with various cancers.
19. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is another beta carotene-rich food source, delivering 3,650 mcg per 100-gram serving when boiled without salt. Much like other green leafy vegetables, Swiss chard boasts leaves that are a nutritional powerhouse, with a culinary history spanning centuries.
Besides, Swiss chard is a rich source of vitamins A and K, along with vitamin C and magnesium. It's also loaded with other antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin. Vitamin A plays a crucial role in the development and maintenance of various organs, including the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
20. Some Herbs and Spices
Beta carotene is also found in some herbs and spices such as paprika, chili, parsley, cayenne, cilantro, marjoram, coriander, and sage.
- Paprika: 1 tablespoon (6.8 g) contains 1,780 mcg (16% of the DV)
- Chili: 1 tablespoon (8 g) contains 1,200 mcg (11% of the DV)
- Parsley: 1cup chopped (60 g) contains 3,030 mcg (28% of the DV)
- Cilantro: 100 grams contains 3,930 mcg (36% of the DV)
- Coriander: 9 springs (20 grams) contains 786 mcg (7% of the DV)
For centuries, herbs and spices have held significant value, appreciated for both their healing properties and their flavor. Modern research has uncovered a multitude of health benefits associated with these natural ingredients.
Health Benefits Of Beta Carotene
Beta carotene converts into vitamin A (retinol) within the body. Vitamin A is essential for maintaining good vision and eye health, a strong immune system, and the well-being of the skin and mucous membranes.
While excessive doses of vitamin A can be toxic, the body only converts as much vitamin A from beta-carotene as it requires.
Indeed, beta-carotene is widely regarded as a safe and valuable source of vitamin A, playing a crucial role in overall health. Research has linked the inclusion of beta carotene-rich foods and the use of beta carotene supplements to the following health benefits:
Foods rich in beta carotene may help promote eye health and safeguard against diseases that affect the eyes such as age-related macular degeneration, a disease that causes vision loss.
Research indicates that maintaining high blood levels of carotenoids, including beta carotene, might potentially lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration by as much as 35%.
Vitamin A, synthesized by the body from beta carotene, helps in maintaining proper lung function. Furthermore, people who consume a substantial amount of beta carotene-rich foods may have a reduced risk of certain types of cancer, including lung cancer.
Better cognitive function
Certain studies suggest that beta carotene's antioxidant properties may have a positive impact on cognitive function, potentially contributing to cognitive improvement.
Beta carotene is believed to promote skin health, likely because of its antioxidant properties. These antioxidants can help protect the skin from damage and contribute to its overall well-being.
May reduce the risk of certain cancers
Studies suggest that diets abundant in foods high in antioxidants like beta carotene may offer protection against the development of specific cancers, such as premenopausal breast cancer, lung cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
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