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Did You Know: Beta Carotene

Did You KnowLaurie Capogna

Did you know the highest food source of beta-carotene is the sweet potato? 

  • Beta carotene from food is important for your eye health.
  • Your body converts beta carotene to vitamin A. Vitamin A is used by the rods and cones to generate a vision signal.

Beta- carotene is a carotenoid found in fruits and vegetables. The body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, which is used by the rods and cones to generate a vision signal.

A diet high in beta-carotene may reduce the risk of AMD and cataracts when consumed in combination with other antioxidants.  High blood levels of beta-carotene may also decrease the risk of chronic disease and protect the body from disease caused by oxidative damage such as heart disease and cancer.

Recent studies have been raising questions regarding taking beta-carotene as a supplement.  Taking beta-carotene supplements an increase the risk of lung cancers in smokers, therefore people that smoke should not take these supplements. However, eating a diet rich in beta-carotene does not increase the risk of lung cancer.

Sweet potatoes top the list as the number one orange vegetable as a source of beta-carotene.  Sweet potatoes also contain a significant amount of fiber.  They are readily available throughout the year and found in the late summer and early fall at local farmer’s markets.

They make a great substitution for white potatoes and can be enjoyed, baked, mashed, or roasted with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.