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Why you need to eat foods rich in carotenes


Pumpkin and carrot_Todd MecklemPumpkin and carrots are rich in alpha and beta carotenes. Source: Todd Mecklem/Flickr

Everyone knows that carrots help keep your eyes healthy. But the goodness of carrots doesn’t stop here. Several studies have shown carrots to be instrumental in protection from cancer and reducing the risk of heart ailments. This is because of a compound called alpha carotene, which is abundantly found in carrots and is also responsible for giving the root its colour. Another class of carotenoids called beta carotenes are also essential to overall health and are mostly present in all foods containing alpha carotenes. Beta carotene is a provitamin that is converted to vitamin A in the body, which is a powerful antioxidant that has many health benefits.

Alpha carotene rich foods like peppers, carrots and sweet potatoes are rich in anti-oxidants which help keep the heart healthy and can go a long way in reducing the chances of a stroke, heart attacks and help maintain overall health and wellness.

Dark green veggies like broccoli, green beans, peas, spinach, collard greens and turnip greens are also rich sources of alpha carotenes. These also offer vitamins, micronutrients like minerals as well as fibre. A few studies indicate a strong correlation between an increased consumption of these veggies and a decreased risk of lung cancer.
Watch how to make a spinach omelette within minutes:

Pumpkin may be one of the most ignored vegetable in Indian cuisine but is rich in both alpha and beta carotenes. It is also high in fibre which makes it ideal for those looking to lose weight. Pumpkin seeds are classified under super-seeds as they offer high-quality plant-based omega-3 fats, along with antioxidants, minerals like zinc, magnesium calcium and make for a great snack.
Learn how to make pumpkin spice cake: 

Beta carotene rich foods like spinach, tomatoes, lettuce and broccoli help protect blood cells from oxidative damage, boost immunity, and are also associated with keeping the reproductive system healthy.

Kale, one of the biggest superfood fads right now, is also an excellent source of beta carotene in the form of vitamin A. In fact, half a cup of kale can give you as much as 478mg of the nutrient and has just 20 calories.
Here’s an easy kale and apple salad that you can make: 


A diet rich in alpha carotene has been proven to slow signs of ageing.