By K Kristie on July 29th, 2011
Cantaloupes and carrots, with their distinctive orange flesh, are two of the well-known foods that are brimming with beta-carotene. Discover what other fruits and vegetables to be had if you want to increase your natural supply of this antioxidant.
Beta-carotene is one of the well-known carotenoids, the naturally occurring pigments in plants. Together with alpha-carotene, gamma-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin, they are converted to vitamin A in the body which is needed for good eyesight, healthy lungs, bones, skin, immune system, and in protein formation.
Although fruits and vegetables rich in beta-carotene are best-known for their orange and yellow hues, those with pink, red, white and other colors may also contain this carotenoid as other phytonutrient pigments combine with the beta-carotene to give plant food its color.
Study participants have shown that those who eat at least four servings of fresh fruits and vegetables rich in beta-carotene daily may lower their risk of developing heart disease and certain cancers. It has also been found to help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and high doses may lower sun sensitivity.
Experts said that beta-carotene may only be beneficial when consumed naturally rather than in supplemental form. In fact, preliminary studies have shown that supplements may raise the risk of lung cancer in smokers.
For every 100 grams, here’s how much beta-carote you will get from the top sources among fresh fruits and vegetables.
1. Cantaloupe – 2020 mcg
2. Apricots – 1094 mcg
3. Cherries, sour, red – 770 mcg
4. Purple passion-fruit – 743 mcg
5. Pink and red grapefruit – 686 mcg
6. Plantains – 457 mcg
7. Mangoes – 445 mcg
8. Guavas – 374 mcg
9. Watermelon – 330 mcg
10. Papayas – 276 mcg
1. Grape leaves – 16193 mcg
2. Kale – 9226 mcg
3. Turnip greens – 6952 mcg
4. Baby carrots – 6391 mcg
5. Mustard greens – 6299 mcg
6. Dandelion greens – 5854 mcg
7. Spinach – 5626 mcg
8. Romaine lettuce – 5225 mcg (also red and green leaf lettuce)
9. Parsley – 5054 mcg
10. Butternut squash – 4226 mcg
Nutrient data source: USDA