Note that these are not listed on food labels, so while we may see Vitamin A listed in a product and it may contain carotenoids, the food may not be exclusively carotenoid based and the amount contained in the product is not known.
Foods rich in carotenoids
Red, yellow, orange and dark green are the colors that most indicate a high content of carotenoids. Starchy vegetables like squash, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, and other root vegetables tend to top the list when considering starchy foods, as they are some of the strongest sources of beta-carotene. However, there are other carotenoid-rich foods that are worth considering.
Few foods provide as many carotenoids as sweet potatoes. A medium-sized, unpeeled baked sweet potato provides over 400 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A for an adult.
Sweet potatoes also provide nutritious alternatives to high-fat, low-nutrient foods like bacon fries and cheese-filled baked potatoes.
Carotenoids help color orange vegetables, including carrots. Carrots are the main sources of beta carotene.
A 1/2 cup serving of raw carrots provides 184% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A for adults. In a canned carrot juice we find 451 percent. Cooked carrots, fresh carrot juice, and carrot soup are additional valuable sources.
green leafy vegetables
Carotenoids also promote the vibrant color of green vegetables. For this reason, dark green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, turnip greens, and mustard greens are valuable sources of carotenoids.
One cup of fresh spinach provides 56% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A for adults. To get even more carotenoids from vegetables, we’ll incorporate frozen or cooked varieties into dishes. Since freezing and cooking condenses vegetables, vegetables prepared this way provide more nutrients per serving. A 1/2 cup serving of frozen spinach provides over 200% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A for adults.
This fruit is an excellent moisturizer for the fall season, with one serving providing approximately 87% water. It is good for boosting immunity and improving digestion.
Like other orange vegetables and fruits, squash is high in beta-carotene with a cup of boiled squash. Contains 9,369 mcg, which is 87% of the daily recommendation.
Studies have shown that the carotene content in cantaloupe is almost 30 times higher than the content of fresh oranges.
While this nutrient-rich cantaloupe still doesn’t put it in the beta-carotene range of fresh carrots (around 8,300 micrograms), it’s still one aspect of this delicious fruit that’s too often overlooked. Also, it should not be bought with white-fleshed melon, as this will have a lower percentage.
Red peppers are another good source of carotenoids. A cup of boiled red pepper flakes gives us 2,058 mcg, or 19 percent of our daily requirement. Peppers are also rich in folic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin B6, which help the body fight free radicals and prevent oxidative stress that can cause cell damage.
In fact, red peppers contain 11 times more beta-carotene, 8 times more vitamin A, A and 1.5 times more vitamin C than green peppers. Red peppers also contain quercetin, an essential antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects that can help prevent heart disease, control blood glucose levels, and kill cancer cells.
Apricots have the highest levels and the widest variety of carotenoids (beta carotene, beta cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, alpha carotene). These not only give this fruit its distinctive orange color, but also act as antioxidants, the levels of which increase as the fruit ripens.
Dried apricots are excellent sources of several important nutrients, including fiber, potassium, and antioxidant carotenoids. Although the drying process degrades a fruit’s content of water-soluble and heat-sensitive vitamins, such as vitamin C, other nutrients become more concentrated. As a result, dried apricots provide higher levels of most nutrients than their fresh versions.
Carotenoids also add color to the redness of plant foods, including tomatoes. Tomato products, including juices and sauces, are the main sources of lycopene.
Tomatoes and derivatives also provide beta-carotene. One cup of canned tomato juice provides 22% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A for adults. To add carotenoids and reduce fat and calories in pasta dishes, swap creamy sauces for marinara sauce or add diced fresh or canned tomatoes.
Mangoes are rich in carotene, a pigment responsible for the orange-yellow color of the fruit. Beta carotene is an antioxidant, just one of many found in mangoes. Mango antioxidants have been shown to fight free radicals, which can damage cells and lead to cancer.
The beta-carotene content of mangoes ranges from 33% to 103% of the recommended daily value of provitamin A, making mangoes an excellent source of vitamin A. Most fruits that contain beta-carotene contain 1 to 3 micrograms per gram of carotenoid (exceptions include melon, which contains 20 mcg / g, followed by pumpkin).
Oranges and 100% orange juice are a major contributor to a provitamin A carotenoid, called beta-cryptoxanthin. A large amount of provitamin A carotenoids is found in sweet potatoes, squash and cantaloupe, making these foods reddish-orange in color.
Orange juice is an important source of carotenoids, which, together with its nutritional importance around the world, has spurred the development of different analytical methodologies for the analysis of these isoprenoid compounds.
Watermelon contains lycopene, a red carotenoid pigment that has strong antioxidant properties. The lycopene content of watermelon is substantial, providing 8 to 20 mg per 180-gram serving. There is no evidence of carotenoid changes in the whole watermelon during storage.
Watermelon is one of the few foods rich in lycopene, a non-provitamin A carotenoid that has up to double the antioxidant capacity of β-carotene in vitro. Data from epidemiological studies suggest that lycopene may have protective effects against certain types of cancer and cardiovascular disease.