(NaturalHealth365) If you are trying to maintain a healthy diet, you should be looking at whether or not you eat enough beta carotene foods. So what is beta carotene anyhow?
This chemical is a member of the carotenoid family. It gives fruits and vegetables their vibrant red-orange or green color. When you eat these foods, beta carotene is converted into vitamin A – an essential nutrient.
Beta carotene can boost the immune system and also act as an antioxidant. This means that it can de-activate free radicals in the body and stop them from doing harm. Plus, over 200 studies show that beta carotene can stop cancer. It is particularly effective in helping tissue in the throat, lungs, intestines, colon and bladder.
Here are some of the top beta carotene foods to eat
Sweet potatoes are considered one of the best sources of beta carotene. Every 3.5 ounces of sweet potatoes will contain about 35% or more of the RDA of Vitamin A.
Kale contains a high level of carotenoids plus over 45 flavonoids. In just one cup of cooked kale, you can find over 350% of the RDA of Vitamin A.
Carrots are the most popular source of carotenoids. In fact, the word “carotenoids” actually originally comes from carrots, as they were first discovered in this vegetable. A cup of carrots has over 400% of the RDA of vitamin A. Incidentally, studies have also shown that carrot extract can stop the growth of colon cancer cells.
Winter squash has over 200% of the RDA for vitamin A. Researchers are increasingly looking into squash due to the fact that it is not only an antioxidant but also an anti-inflammatory. This means it can be vital for cancer treatment and prevention.
The above-mentioned are just a few of the best beta carotene foods. Also highly recommended are chlorella, spinach, turnip greens, herbs, romaine lettuce and cantaloupe.
When taken as a supplement, vitamin A, or retinol, is also reported to help prevent skin cancer. The acids in the retinol can encourage healthy cell renewal. And, let’s not forget, foods that are high in beta carotene can also prevent heart disease.
It’s important to note that eating beta carotene foods are essential and don’t ever think that a supplement will be better than natural foods. In fact, studies looking at those who are in a high risk group for developing lung cancer have found that beta carotene supplementation is not as effective as eating beta carotene rich foods.
One study, performed in Finland and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, followed males who smoked for about 8 years. The study revealed that those who took supplements had a higher lung cancer rate.
As a result, it makes much better sense to focus on eating foods rich in beta carotene rather than relying on a supplement. This is a far superior way for your body to get this vital nutrient.
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