Everything you need to know about beta-carotene: the powerful nutrient which can transform your health

Beta-carotene is a natural pigment that gives certain fruits and vegetables their vibrant orange, red, and yellow colours.Picture:Pexels/ Polina Tankilevitch.

Beta-carotene is a natural pigment that gives certain fruits and vegetables their vibrant orange, red, and yellow colours.Picture:Pexels/ Polina Tankilevitch.

Published Nov 28, 2023


When we talk about eating a rainbow, we aren't just referring to colourful foods for aesthetic appeal.

Those vibrant hues in fruits and vegetables are often a sign of a powerful nutrient called beta-carotene.

But what exactly is beta-carotene, and why should we care about it?

This powerful nutrient is a natural pigment found in many colourful fruits and vegetables, particularly those that are orange or yellow in colour.

It belongs to a group of compounds called carotenoids, which are powerful antioxidants known for their health benefits.

In the body, beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A, an essential nutrient with a wide range of important functions.

What is beta-carotene and where can you find it?

Beta-carotene is a natural pigment that gives certain fruits and vegetables their vibrant orange, red, and yellow colours.

You can find it in foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, spinach, kale, and pumpkin seeds.

Once you eat foods rich in beta-carotene, your body goes to work, turning it into vitamin A - a crucial nutrient that plays multiple roles in maintaining your health.

Vitamin A is essential for healthy eyesight, proper immune function, and glowing skin.

It also acts as a powerful antioxidant, helping to protect your cells from damage caused by harmful molecules known as free radicals.

Why is beta-carotene important for our bodies?

One of beta-carotene's most well-known benefits is its role in supporting eye health.

Scientific studies have suggested that beta-carotene, along with other antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, may help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in older adults.

By adding beta-carotene-rich foods to your diet, you can give your peepers some extra love and support.

Eye health

Beta-carotene is known for its role in promoting good vision and maintaining eye health.

Your body transforms beta-carotene into vitamin A, which is essential for night vision and overall eye function.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Scientific studies has suggested that beta-carotene, as a precursor to vitamin A, plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy vision.

It's also known to help protect our eyes from age-related macular degeneration and support overall eye health.

Antioxidant properties

As an antioxidant, beta-carotene helps to neutralise harmful molecules known as free radicals, which can cause damage to our cells.

By reducing oxidative stress, beta-carotene supports overall health and may play a role in reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Supports immune

Vitamin A, derived from beta-carotene, plays a vital role in supporting a robust immune system, helping your body fight off infections and

Skin radiance

As an antioxidant, beta-carotene plays its part in maintaining healthy skin by protecting it from oxidative stress and promoting a natural, radiant glow.

The Role of Carotenoids in Human Skin study, published by the National Library of Medicine, demonstrated that beta-carotene exhibits photo-protective properties, which helps to shield the skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation.

Beta-carotene protects from sun damage, supports overall skin cell health, and gives it an extra boost to maintain its youthful glow.

Heart health

Beta-carotene is also thought to play a part in maintaining a healthy heart, according to the Journal of Nutrition with summarised findings from various studies.

This research indicated that beta-carotene intake may be associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

While further research is ongoing to fully understand the mechanisms behind this relationship, the evidence hints at the cardiovascular benefits of incorporating beta-carotene-rich foods into your dietary regimen.

Beta-carotene-rich foods

Adding beta-carotene-rich foods to your daily diet can be as simple as enjoying a colourful salad, a pumpkin soup, or some sweet potatoes.

By including a variety of these vibrant foods in your meals, you can ensure that you're getting your daily dose of beta-carotene and reaping its amazing health benefits.

Here's a simple and delicious recipe for a beta-carotene-rich smoothie that you can easily incorporate into their diet:

Recipe: Mango Carrot Smoothie


1 ripe mango, peeled and diced

1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup almond milk (or any milk of choice)

1 tablespoon honey (optional for sweetness)

Ice cubes


1. In a blender, combine the diced mango, chopped carrot, Greek yoghurt, orange juice, almond milk, and honey (if using).

2. Add a handful of ice cubes to the blender for a refreshing chill.

3. Blend all the ingredients until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour the smoothie into glasses and garnish with a slice of mango or a carrot stick for a decorative touch.

5. Serve the smoothie immediately and enjoy the refreshing and nutritious blend of mango and carrot flavours.

This smoothie was inspired by a recipe shared by food blogger and nutrition enthusiast, Sarah from "The Mostly Healthy".

The content creator's creative and nutritious recipes are aimed at providing simple and wholesome options for maintaining a balanced and healthy diet.

By blending the natural sweetness of mango with the earthy goodness of carrots, this smoothie offers a burst of flavour while delivering the nutritional benefits of beta-carotene.

It's also a fantastic way to enjoy the healthful properties of beta-carotene, in a convenient and delicious form.