Beta-carotene is an organic compound that is naturally found in plants and serves as an accessory to photosynthesis. It is a strongly colored, red-orange pigment that is responsible for coloring the vegetables. Some of the good sources of beta-carotene include dark green and orange-yellow vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, winter squash, spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, green turnip, fresh thyme, cilantro, cantaloupe and green peppers. It is also found in fruits like mango, melon, papaya, apricots and pumpkins. The compound is also available in red-orange colored dry foliage and the yellow color in milk fat, butter and egg yolks. Beta-carotene, along with the alpha and gamma, is considered a pro-vitamin, as all three can be converted to active vitamin A. Read on further to know about the benefits of consuming beta carotene.
Benefits Of Beta-Carotene
- Beta carotene contains antioxidant properties that serve several biological functions, such as the synthesis of certain glycoproteins.
- Foods that contain beta carotene help to overcome the deficiency of vitamin A, which can otherwise lead to abnormal bone development, disorders of the reproductive system, xerophthalmia (a drying condition of the cornea of the eye), and ultimately death.
- Beta-carotene protects the cells of the body from the damage caused by free radicals. It also enhances the function of the immune system.
- It stimulates cell-to-cell communication, as poor communication between cells is one of the causes of the overgrowth of cells, a condition that leads to cancer.
- The compound is also known to participate in female reproduction. The nutrient, corpus luteum, possesses the highest concentration of beta carotene and plays an important role in reproductive processes.
- Beta-carotene also benefits various other medical conditions, such as HIV/ AIDS, muscular degeneration, angina pectoris (chest pain), cataract, eczema, cervical cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, female and male fertility, chlamydial infection, leukoplakia, osteoporosis, photosensitivity, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
- Other health conditions that can be prevented by the consumption of beta carotene include asthma, cervical dysplasia, headaches, heart disease, Laryngeal cancer (cancer of the larynx), pneumonia, psoriasis, and vaginal candidiasis.
- Excess intake of beta carotene can cause carotenodermia, a condition that arises from deposition of carotenoids in the outermost layer of the epidermis.
- High doses of bet carotene can also increase the rate of lung cancer amongst people who smoke.
- Beta carotene supplements are also known to increase the risk of prostate cancer, intracerebral hemorrhage, and cardiovascular and total mortality amongst cigarette smokers.