Beta-carotene is a carotenoid, it is one of a group of plant pigments which is known to have antioxidant and other beneficial effects. It is the source of yellow and orange coloration in vegetables and fruits, and is also found in green and red fruits and vegetables and in some grains and oils.
Beta carotene is a substance in plants that is converted into vitamin A inside your body. It is often thought of as a form of vitamin A in itself. Having normal levels of vitamin A is essential for strong immunity, good vision and general health.
Foods Rich in Beta-Carotene
Carrots contain 83 mcg of beta-carotene per 1 gram. They are one of the popular whole food sources of beta-carotene, and does contain a lot of this essential nutrient.
A 100-gram serving or about 3.5 ounces of raw carrots, contains about 8,285 micrograms of beta-carotene.
To improve the bio-availability of beta-carotene from carrots, you should consider cooking the vegetables. A study that was published in the December 2003 issue of the European Journal of Nutrition found that people absorbed significantly more beta-carotene from meals that contained pureed and cooked carrots than from meals that contained raw chopped carrots.
2. Citrus Fruits
Among citrus fruits, pink or red grapefruits contain the highest levels of beta-carotene, with 844 micrograms of this substance in just half fruit. ½ white grapefruit contains just17 micrograms of this nutrient.
A medium-sized orange provides about 93 micrograms of beta-carotene, while a half-cup of canned mandarin oranges contains 282 micrograms and while a medium-sized tangerine contains 136 micrograms of beta-carotene.
Lemons and limes provide negligible amounts of beta-carotene. In fact, citrus fruits are among the best food sources of beta-carotene.
Kale is another example of leafy vegetable which is very rich in beta carotene in the form of vitamin A. Just 1/2 cup serving of this vegetable contains just 478 milligrams and 20 calories of beta-carotene.
4. Moringa Leaves
Moringa leaves contain about 67 mcg per 1 gram of beta-carotene. Also, it contains lots of vitamin C, iron, calcium, potassium and protein. The beta-carotene content of moringa is about 6,700 micrograms per 1 gram of fresh moringa leaves.
Just 1 cup of green-fleshed honeydew melon contains about 53 micrograms of beta-carotene. The bright-orange flesh, cantaloupe is on top of the list of fruits also rich in beta-carotene. Just a single cup of cantaloupe provides about 3,575 micrograms of this nutrient, and 1 cup of reddish-pink watermelon provides about 467 micrograms.
6. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potato contains up to 226 mcg of beta-carotene per 1 gram. It beats carrot in terms of beta-carotene content. Well, as long as you go for the variety containing dark orange flesh.
In a study which was published in the journal Food Chemistry, sweet potatoes with intense orange flesh were reported to contain up to 226 micrograms of beta-carotene per one gram. In varieties containing lighter orange flesh, however, the amount of beta-carotene was significantly lower, which ranges from 11.8 mcg/g to 29.8 mcg/g.
Spinanch contains 56 mcg per 1 gram of beta-carotene. A 100-gram serving of raw spinach contains about 5.6 milligrams of beta-carotene. To help your body to absorb a good share of that amount, consider liquefying or mincing spinach leaves.
A study which was published in the February 1999 issue of The Journal of Nutrition found that the beta-carotene in spinach is more bioavailable if the spinach is eaither liquefied or minced before consumption. Then go put some fresh baby spinach into the blender for your smoothie.
8. Tropical Fruits
Just 1 cup of pineapple chunks contain 58 micrograms of beta-carotene. You will get 397 micrograms from 1 cup of papaya ch
nks and 617 micrograms of beta-carotene from 1 cup of guava pieces.
One cup of raw yellow passion fruit juice provides 1,297 micrograms of beta-carotene, while 1 cup of fresh mango chunks provide 1,056 micrograms of beta-carotene. Just 1 cup of raw purple passion fruit juice contains 1,035 micrograms and 1 cup of fresh passion fruit contains 1,753 micrograms of this substance.