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Beta caroteneWhen it comes to nutritional supplementation, and antioxidants in particular, beta carotene is an antiaging micronutrient of the highest order, standing firmly alongside Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and the mineral Selenium in its ability to reduce illness, improve overall health, and increase longevity.
What can beta carotene do for you? Studies conducted over several years indicate that betacarotene may play a significant role in reducing the effects of certain illnesses (such as heart disease, decreased immune function, cataracts, and forms of cancer) and, in certain cases, perhaps even prevent them.
Beta-carotene acts as a precursor of vitamin A, and is therefore called a provitamin A compound. Foods or supplements containing beta-carotene are converted to vitamin A for the maintenance of healthy skin, good vision, and a robust immune system.
Beta-carotene is also a powerful antioxidant, and has been shown to help guard against cancer and heart disease.
Beta-carotene is a member of the carotenoid family, a group of powerful antioxidants that also includes alpha-carotene, lycopene, zeaxanthin, and lutein. However, of all the carotenoids, only alpha-carotene and beta-carotene are converted to significant amounts of vitamin A in the body, and beta-carotene is by far the most plentiful carotenoid found in fruits and vegetables.
Beta-carotene also contains flavonoids, which are antioxidant substances that give color and flavor to many orange- and red-colored fruits and vegetables. Foods such as carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, apricots, and mangoes are good sources of beta-carotene; romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, and broccoli are also rich in carotenoids (the yellow color is covered up by chlorophyll in green leafy plants).
Here's a tip regarding flavonoids: Many flavonoids in fruits and vegetables are in the skin, so itís best not to peel them before eating. However, grilling or lightly steaming some foods, such as carrots and spinach, can actually improve the bodyís ability to absorb the flavonoids in them.
Beta carotene, part 2
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