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Beta carotene is an organic compound found in fruits and vegetables. It is a strong redo or orange pigment. This nutrient plays a very important role in maintaining good health and participates in many body functions. Beta carotene is an inactive form of vitamin A and when it converts into it, it helps maintain good eye sight and prevent eye diseases.

Beta carotene is present in many plant foods and it can also be taken in form of supplements.

Foods containing beta carotene

When thinking about beta carotene, most people instantly think of carrots. This root vegetable is indeed an excellent source of this nutrient, which gives carrots their nice orange color. They are also a good source of fiber, which makes them suitable for people who suffer from chronic constipation. Carrots make a perfect snack. They are sweet, crunchy, refreshing and they are best if consumed raw. They can be cut into sticks and served with a dip or they can be chopped into a salad. Carrots are also used to make cakes, and they make a very delicious and healthy juice.

Another excellent source of beta carotene is water melon. Even though it is sweet, water melon is actually a vegetable, from the same family as cucumbers. It is very refreshing and delicious, and when refrigerated, it can be eaten instead of ice cream during summer. Water melon contains large amounts of water so it is very beneficial for the urinary tract. It is also low in calories so it can be eaten in large quantities without having to worry about the figure.

Scientists have recently found that sweet potatoes make a great source of beta carotene. However, because they are rich in calories, they should be avoided by people who have weight problems. Sweet potatoes are best if cooked with the peel, which can easily be taken off after cooking. Peel actually keeps all the important nutrients inside, which is why it is better to leave it on.

One would think that only orange and red foods contain beta carotene. However, this compound is found in green vegetables too, especially in lettuce and spinach.

Other foods rich in beta carotene include squash, pumpkins, avocados, cabbage, tomatoes, asparagus and radishes.

Side effects of beta carotene

Like any other nutrient, beta carotene can have some side effects if consumed in excessive amounts. One of the most common and harmless side effects is carotenodermia, in which the patient’s skin turns slightly orange.

Also, it has been proven that smokers should avoid taking beta carotene supplements, because it may increase the risk of lung cancer, prostate cancer, intracerebral hemorrhage and cardiovascular disease. People who are exposed to asbestos should be careful with beta carotene supplements as well.

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