Beta-carotene or provitamin ensures the beautiful color of our skin. However, its valuable properties do not end there. The source of beta-carotene can be found mainly in yellow, orange, and red fruit and vegetables. Considering the number of important functions that beta-carotene performs, it is worth including products that are a good source of it in your diet.
Beta-carotene belongs to a group of compounds called carotenoids. Basically, these are dyes that give plants a yellow, orange, and red color. The group of carotenoids includes over 600 compounds, which in addition to beta-carotene include lycopene (known for its anti-cancer properties), canthaxanthin, and zeaxanthin. Carotenoids can be found in fruit as well as grains, roots, flowers, leaves, and stems. Plant sources of carotenoids play an important role in human nutrition due to their antioxidant properties.
Beta-carotene is also called provitamin A because vitamin A is produced from it with the participation of unsaturated fatty acids and liver enzymes. It plays an important role in the process of vision (its deficiency can lead to the so-called “night blindness”, i.e. worse vision after dark) and in the proper functioning of the mucous membranes. It is also involved in the growth process. Vitamin A is also classified as a compound with a positive effect on our immunity. That is why it is worth looking for plant sources of provitamin not only in the summer. Beta-carotene besides the fact that it cares for the beautiful color of the skin and takes part in vitamin A production also has antioxidant properties. This is especially important nowadays when we are particularly exposed to oxidative stress due to air pollution, stressful lifestyle, low physical activity, or smoking. Oxidative stress can cause the development of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and also neurodegenerative diseases. That is why it is so important to include in the menu products that are a rich source of antioxidants that protect us against oxidative stress. These can be, for example, plant sources of beta-carotene. Below are some examples of vegetables and fruit that contain high amounts of this compound.
These vegetables and fruit should be included in the diet in accordance with the seasonal calendar. As you can see in the examples above, plant-based sources of beta-carotene are both products that are available all year round and those that only appear at certain times of the year. In autumn and winter, a good source of beta-carotene will be pumpkin, carrots, citrus, kale. In summer, on the other hand, it is worth including gooseberries, or cherries.
What are the culinary properties of these fruits and veggies? Here are some examples that show how we can include plant-based sources of provitamin A in our diet.
As you can see, there are many interesting ideas for including plant-based beta-carotene sources in our diet. It is worth opening up to new flavors and looking for a combination of flavors that will be the most appropriate for us.
Plant sources of beta-carotene occupy an important place in our diet because it is a compound necessary for the synthesis of vitamin A, as well as a strong antioxidant. Providing adequate amounts of beta-carotene will ensure the smooth functioning of the immune system, the eye, and will also reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
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