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What is beta carotene?

Beta carotene is part of the carotenoid family and is found in fruits and vegetables. It usually gives these foods an orange, yellow, or red color. Our bodies can turn beta carotene into vitamin A or use it as an antioxidant.

What foods have a lot of beta carotene?

Beta carotene is found in many fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. Although most strongly associated with orange, yellow, and red foods, beta carotene is also found in many dark leafy green vegetables. Some foods high in beta carotene are carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, and kale. Some herbs and spices that contain beta carotene include cayenne, paprika, cilantro, and parsley. 

Is beta carotene an antioxidant?

Beta carotene can function as an antioxidant in the body. Antioxidants are beneficial because they work to neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative stress. Our bodies work to keep free radicals in check, but if there is an imbalance of free radicals compared to antioxidants, it can lead to oxidative stress. Consuming foods that contain antioxidants, like beta carotene, may help prevent oxidative stress. 

Why should I eat beta carotene?

Beta carotene is a great source of antioxidants, it can become vitamin A in the body, and it is found in many healthy fruits and vegetables.

Related Terms

Lycopene Isoflavones

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Photo of Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson

Medically reviewed by:

Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson, Ph.D., RD

Kristin is an RDN who also earned her Ph.D. in Nutrition from Arizona State University with an emphasis on insulin resistance, lipid metabolism disorders, and obesity. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Mayo Clinic where she focused on nutrition-related proteomic and metabolic research. Her interests include understanding the exact mechanism of action of various genetic variations underlying individual predispositions to nutrition-related health outcomes. Her goal is to help all individuals prevent chronic diseases and achieve long, healthy lives through eating well.

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