Alpha Carotene Benefits
Alpha-carotene is part of the carotenoid family, and is one of the most abundant carotenoids in a healthy diet. Your body can convert alpha and beta-carotene into vitamin A for the maintenance of healthy skin and bones, good vision, and a robust immune system.
Because the body converts alpha-carotene to vitamin A, alpha-carotene is called a precursor to vitamin A, or a provitamin A compound. As a precursor to vitamin A, alpha-carotene is only about half as effective as beta-carotene, another well-known carotenoid.
However, alpha-carotene may be even more effective than beta-carotene in its role as an antioxidant.
Antioxidants are enzymes that stop free radicals from causing cells to break down, or oxidize. Powerful antioxidants like alpha-carotene remove destructive free radicals from the body before they cause the tissue damage that can lead to chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.
In addition, alpha-carotene may help prevent cancer by stimulating cell-to-cell communication, a process which researchers now believe is necessary to ensure proper cell division.
Alpha-carotene contains flavonoids, which are antioxidant substances that give color and flavor to many orange- and red-colored fruits and vegetables. Carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, broccoli, kale, cantaloupe, brussels sprouts, kiwi, spinach, mangos, squash, and spinach are all good sources of alpha-carotene.
Many flavonoids in fruits and vegetables are in the skin, so it’s best not to peel fruits and vegetables when possible. However, lightly steaming some foods, such as carrots and spinach, can actually improve the body’s ability to absorb them.