Pumpkins, carrots, sweet potato and butternut squash! Not only do these fall vegetables show off the beautiful fall orange color, but they are also full of the antioxidant and provitamin beta-carotene. This antioxidant is what gives these delicious foods their signature orange and yellow colors.
What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are substances that are found in a variety of natural foods. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals that can accumulate in your body. Free radicals cause stress on your body. If not neutralized they can cause disease such as heart disease and cancer.
Why Is Beta-Carotene Important?
Beta-carotene is an antioxidant and a provitamin. It is a provitamin because beta-carotene is needed to activate Vitamin A (retinol) in the body. They are also considered to be a type of carotenoid. Carotenoids are phytochemicals and there are over 600 different types found in our foods. Each carotenoid helps your body in different ways
Beta-carotene can help with eye health over time. It can reduce your risk of macular degeneration as you age. It has also been shown to reduce your risk of cancer.
How Much Beta-Carotene Do You Need?
Recommended daily allowance of beta-carotene is 700-900 mcg per day.
Lactating females need more beta carotene in their diet.
How to Consume Beta-Carotene?
Foods that contain rich sources of beta-carotene are yellow, orange, and green leafy fruits and vegetables.
- Butternut Squash
- Sweet Potatoes
- Red and Yellow Peppers
- Romaine Lettuce
- Swiss Chard
Vitamin A, beta-carotene and carotenoids are fat-soluble nutrients. This means that they need to be consumed with a fat in order for the nutrients to be absorbed into the body. So make sure you are pairing your pumpkin with a fat.
It is recommended that to help you get the wide variety of nutrients that you need in a day, you should get 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. make sure that the food you are eating have a variety of colors.
Here is a great recipe to help you get more beta-carotene in your diet! Drizzle some crème fresh or olive oil over the soup in order to get your fat with the meal.