What Is Beta Carotene and its Benefits?

Find out about the importance of including beta carotene in your diet. It's the pigment in vegetables and fruits that has an antioxidant capacity.
What Is Beta Carotene and its Benefits?

Last update: 19 January, 2021

Beta carotene is a pigment present in many foods, especially plants, that has important functions within the body. In addition, it has the ability to convert into vitamin A if the body needs it.

This nutrient is mainly found in vegetables that are red, orange, or even yellow. Carrots, for example, are a source of beta carotene. Consuming it regularly is related to a better state of health, and we’ll explain more about it below.

Beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant

One of the main characteristics of beta carotene is its antioxidant potential. This substance is capable of blocking free radicals, thus reducing the risk of developing complex diseases associated with age. This was shown in a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Regular intake of beta carotene has been associated with a lower incidence of chronic diseases, including some types of cancer. Also, we should mention that these problems are some of the deadliest in developed countries. In fact, they account for a large number of annual deaths. This is one of the reasons why it’s good to eat fruits and vegetables regularly.

Vitamin A precursors

Red apples in a crate.

As we mentioned, beta carotene can turn into vitamin A, if needed. This nutrient is very important for the human body.

On one hand, it’s essential to maintain good visual health, since it prevents progressive macular degeneration. On the other hand, it’s a vitamin that can reduce the risk of liver disease, thereby protecting liver function.

Also, vitamin A helps heal wounds, as stated by research published in the journal Nutrition in Clinical Practice.

This substance, along with vitamin C, can reduce the healing time of skin and muscle problems. This is because they stimulate collagen production and the growth of the epithelia, which is the tissue on the outer layer of skin.

Include foods with bright colors in your diet

Beta carotene, as we already mentioned, is found in brightly colored vegetables. This pigment, as well as phytonutrients such as anthocyanins, are responsible for their organoleptic characteristic- the different senses, such as smell and taste- of many fruits and vegetables.

Therefore, whenever you see a vegetable with bright colors, you’ll know that it has a high amount of antioxidants. This is very good for your health.

However, keep in mind that vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient. You need to have a certain level of body fat so you can have a reserve of this vitamin.

In addition, you need to have a constant lipid intake through your diet to prevent deficiencies that would hurt your health. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to consume products that contain saturated and unsaturated fats. However, you should avoid foods that have trans fats.

Papaya halves with seeds.

Beta carotene is a valuable antioxidant nutrient

Beta carotene is a pigment present in plant foods. They stand out for their antioxidants, which are good for your health. For this reason, it’s good to consume it regularly.

In fact, they can prevent certain complex diseases, as well as delay aging by blocking the production of free radicals.

As if this weren’t enough, beta carotene can transform into vitamin A whenever necessary. However, you need to have enough fats in your diet so your body can store them. This vitamin can help improve visual and liver health, as well as helping to heal an injury.

It’s clear that consuming vegetables regularly is very important for health. One of the keys to a healthy diet is variety. However, when choosing foods that appear more frequently in your diet, always pay attention to the bright and striking colors. These are the ones that have more beta carotene and other antioxidants.

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  • Ames BN., Prolonging healthy aging: longevity vitamins and proteins. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2018. 115 (43): 10836-10844.
  • Zinder R., Cooley R., Vlad LG., Molnar JA., Vitamin A and wound healing. Nutr Clin Pract, 2019. 34 (6): 839-849.