If you’ve ever heard that beta-carotene is nature’s “wonder drug”, there’s quite some truth to that saying.
Science has shown that this is a powerful nutrient to protect against the most feared diseases commonly associated with age, including cancer, heart disease and stroke. Beta-carotene is found in abundance, mostly in brightly orange and yellow vegetables like carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and squash, as well as a small selection of other whole foods.
People who regularly eat even small amounts of these foods are giving themselves significant levels of protection from cancer, heart disease and stroke.
For example, a recent large-scale Harvard study found that eating just one little carrot a day cuts your risk of stroke by an astonishing 68 percent.
Beta-carotene also helps reduce the risk for the development and progression of conditions like atherosclerosis, diabetes, and colon cancer.
Similar to vitamin C, beta-carotene also may also operate to reduce the severity of asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis and helps build a strong immune system.
So how do you get more of this wonder drug?
Keep reading to learn about the foods richest in beta carotene, a selection of which you should eat every day, to protect yourself against chronic disease and cancer, and to help you avoid unnecessary medical intervention.
Carrots are the best known source of beta-carotene, which our bodies need to create vitamin A. Carrots are one of the richest sources of beta-carotene, which protects against cancer as well as treats night blindness, ear infections, earaches and deafness.
The beta-carotene in carrots has numerous cancer-preventing properties and possess life extension properties that protect us from the toxic effects of free radicals Carrots are best known for helping our eyes. Beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin all concentrate in the retina of the eye, so eating more carrots can help you protect your eyesight as you age.
Try juicing 24 carrots every day for a welcome boost of beta-carotene.
Beets are high in beta-carotene, which is important for keeping your heart healthy, your bones strong, and helping to prevent cancer. If you’re concerned about osteoporosis, eating beets can help. These delicious red roots are loaded with potassium, magnesium and beta-carotene, which help build strong bones.
Learn more in 5 Incredible Health Benefits of Beets.
3. Leafy greens
There’s no doubt leafy greens are good for you. The fibre plus the concentrated vitamins and nutrients all work wonders for your health and digestive system. But these dark leafy greens are also cock full of beta-carotene.
Romaine’s vitamin C and beta-carotene content make it a heart-healthy green because the vitamin C and beta-carotene work together to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. When cholesterol becomes oxidised, it becomes sticky and starts to build up in the artery walls, forming plaques. These plaques, if they become too large, can block off blood flow or break causing a clot that triggers a heart attack or stroke.
Spinach is another dark leafy green full of beta-carotene and it’s one of the foods eaten by people who don’t get cancer. It has four times more beta-carotene and three times more lutein than broccoli and is rich in fibre too.
Arugula is known for having large amounts of folate and calcium. It also contains more beta-carotene and vitamin C than any other salad green and contains cancer-removing phytochemicals called indoles.
4. Turnip Greens
Turnip greens aren’t just high in beta-carotene, but they’re a good food to eat if you have any concern for rheumatoid arthritis. The beta-carotene in turnip greens is important because low levels of vitamin A, which can be formed in the body from beta-carotene, are associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
Vitamin A supports the proper function of the immune system as well as helps the body to produce and maintain healthy membranes, including the synovial membrane within our joints. Beta-carotene, which is a powerful nutrient in its own right, can be converted in the body to vitamin A, which has been shown in some studies to decrease the risks of developing both colon and rectal cancer.
Avocados are a superfood for a wide range of reasons (in addition to being creamy and delicious), but they’re actually incredibly beneficial for beta-carotene absorption. While they do contain beta-carotene themselves, they more importantly help the body better absorb it from other foods because beta-carotene is fat-soluble.
Adding avocado to foods high in beta-carotene showed, in one study, participants’ absorption of carotenoids from these foods was significantly increased. It also showed that the increased carotenoid availability occurred even when a very small amount – as little as two ounces – of avocado was added. Adding avocado to salad increased absorption of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lutein by factors of 7.2, 15.3, and 5.1 times, respectively, than the average amount of these carotenoids absorbed when a salad without avocado was consumed.
Due to their beta-carotene content, prunes have the ability to deter oxygen-related damage to our cells. Just a quarter-cup of prunes will give you tons of vitamin A.
The beta-carotene in prunes help eliminate free radicals that would otherwise cause damage to our cells and cell membranes.
Beta-carotene, which shuts down free radicals, has been shown in studies to be helpful for the prevention of a variety of diseases, including diabetic heart disease, atherosclerosis, and colon cancer, and why it has also been found useful for reducing the severity of inflammatory conditions like asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Other Beta-Carotene Rich Wholefoods
You’re probably convinced at this point that beta-carotene is an important nutrient for your health. There’s just one catch: if you want beta-carotene’s protection against disease, you must get it from FOODS rich in beta-carotene, not from fragmented supplements.
New research is showing that beta-carotene supplements are ill-effective in preventing diseases. Why are food sources of beta-carotene so superior to supplements? Scientists say it’s because beta-carotene has at least 500 siblings, collectively known as carotenoids.
Many of them haven’t yet been identified by science and there are hundreds more we don’t even know about, but we’re getting them in every bite of a single carrot.
But when you take a beta-carotene supplement, you’re only getting the nutrient in its inactive form. When you eat a carrot or other beta-carotene food, you get the entire combination of all 500-plus carotenoids, all of which dramatically boost beta-carotene’s power.
It’s this combination of natural ingredients that protects you from heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
More foods high in beta-carotene:
- Yellow/orange bell peppers
- Podded peas
Tip: try the Tropical Raw Juice Powder for a delicious juice blend that packs a powerful punch of beta-carotene to boot.
Beta-carotene is one of the best nutrients to include in your diet to help you live longer and healthier. Include a variety of the foods in this article regularly in your diet to maximise your body’s intake of beta-carotene and to protect against the chronic diseases and cancers.
After all, Mother Nature has the very best medicine in the exact right doses without any side effects. All you have to do is eat it in whole foods!
Tolman Self Care.