3 Health benefits of beta carotene, an antioxidant carotenoid
12/09/2021 / By Rose Lidell / Comments
3 Health benefits of beta carotene, an antioxidant carotenoid

Beta carotene is a pigment that gives a bright yellow, orange and red color to certain plants and vegetables. While beta carotene isn’t an essential nutrient, vitamin A is. Consuming foods rich in beta carotene helps boost your immunity and eye health.

Your body turns beta carotene into vitamin A or retinol. You need vitamin A for healthy skin and mucus membranes, a strong immune system and good eye health.

You can boost your vitamin A levels by eating foods rich in beta carotene or taking supplements. When you consume beta carotene, your body only converts as much as it needs.

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While beta carotene is good for you, too much vitamin A is toxic. Vitamin A toxicity occurs if you consume too many supplements.

Health benefits of beta carotene

Beta carotene offers many health benefits. Here are three reasons to boost your intake of foods rich in beta carotene:

Beta carotene is a beneficial antioxidant

Carotenoids like beta carotene are antioxidants.

An antioxidant is a substance that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules and helps protect your body from free radical damage. Free radicals damage cells through oxidation. In time, the damage caused by free radicals may cause several chronic illnesses.

According to research, diets that include foods rich in antioxidants can help prevent free radical damage, boost immune health and lower your risk of developing cancer and heart disease. Some studies have found that people who consume at least four daily servings of beta carotene-rich fruits or vegetables have a lower risk of developing cancer or heart disease.

Beta carotene can help impede cognitive decline

In a 2007 study conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School, researchers found that men who have been taking beta carotene supplements for 15 years or longer have a lower chance of experiencing cognitive decline than other men.

Researchers believe that oxidative stress plays a role in cognitive decline, and other studies suggest that antioxidant supplements can help prevent the deterioration of cognition.

In the 2007 study, researchers compared data from 4,052 men. The volunteers were categorized into two: those who took beta carotene supplements for an average of 18 years and those who were given a placebo. Over the short term, there was no difference in cognitive decline risk between the two groups of men.

However, the long term data showed that beta carotene supplements made a significant difference. The researchers said that other factors may have also contributed to the slower decline in cognitive abilities among the volunteers who took the supplements.

Beta carotene can boost your lung health as you age

In 2006, The BMJ published a report that showed how high blood beta carotene levels can help repair lung damage caused by free radicals.

For the study, researchers measured the FEV1 of 535 participants and their beta carotene blood levels. FEV1 refers to how much air you can breathe out in one second. Findings showed that participants with high beta carotene levels had a much slower decline in FEV1 measures.

Superfoods high in beta carotene

You can boost your beta carotene intake by eating more of the following superfoods:

  • Apricots
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Butternut squash
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Chives
  • Dandelion leaves
  • Grapefruit
  • Kale
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Peppers (Red and yellow)
  • Plums
  • Pumpkin
  • Romaine
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes

Herbs and spices:

  • Cayenne
  • Chili or chili powder
  • Cilantro
  • Coriander
  • Marjoram
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Parsley
  • Sage

If you follow a balanced diet and eat foods rich in beta carotene, you can skip the supplements. Taking too many supplements can cause an undesirable excess in beta carotene levels, which won’t occur if your source is fruits and veggies.

Considerations before consuming foods rich in beta carotene

According to a 20015 study in France, smokers with high beta carotene levels have a higher risk of lung cancer and other smoking-related cancers than other smokers. The researchers also found that non-smokers with high beta carotene intake have a lower risk of lung cancer.

For those taking beta carotene supplements, check with a healthcare professional if they will interact with any of your medications. A drug interaction refers to a substance interfering with how a medication works, either making it less effective, increasing its potency or changing what it’s supposed to do.

The following drugs may interact with beta carotene supplements:

  • Some cholesterol-lowering drugs – Cholestyramine and colestipol can reduce blood levels of dietary beta carotene by thirty to forty percent.
  • Mineral oil – Mineral oil, which is used to relieve constipation, may lower blood levels of beta carotene.
  • Orlistat (such as Xenical or Alli) – Orlistat, a weight control medication, can interfere with the absorption of beta carotene by up to 30 percent, resulting in low blood beta carotene levels. If you’re taking a multivitamin while on orlistat, take the former at least two hours before taking your medication.
  • Statins – Taking beta carotene with selenium and vitamins E and C can decrease the effectiveness of simvastatin (Zocor) and niacin.

Long-term alcohol consumption can also affect beta carotene levels and increase your risk of developing liver problems.

Follow a balanced diet and eat foods rich in beta carotene to naturally boost your immunity and eye health.

Sources:

MedicalNewsToday.com

Healthline.com

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