Nutrition Power Summer Series: Beta Carotene

Now that summer is in full swing, the question on everyone’s mind is: How do I get a summer glow? The answer is pretty simple; eat foods rich in beta carotene. Beta Carotene is a red-orange pigment that gives fruits and vegetables its coloring. Our bodies convert beta carotene into vitamin A, which we need for healthy skin.  



Beta Carotene 1

Image Source

Beta Carotene 2

Image Source


Carrots are the quintessential beta carotene food. Carrots are available all year round, but they are at their freshest and most flavorful during summer and fall. That is when local varieties of carrots are in season. Carrots, belonging to the umbelliferae family of plants, are cousins to parsnip, fennel, anise, caraway, cumin and dill.  In addition to its positive effects on skin and eye health, studies have linked regular intake of carrots to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Select carrots that still have greens attached, as these tend to keep better and taste fresher.


Recipe NYT Roasted Carrot Recipe


Sweet Potatoes:

Beta Carotene 3

Image Source

Sweet potato is regarded as one of the oldest vegetables known to mankind. It is believed that sweet potatoes were first domesticated thousands of years ago in Central America. In some studies, sweet potatoes have been shown to be a better source of absorbable beta carotene than green, leafy vegetables. Storage proteins in sweet potatoes (sporamins) are produced by sweet potatoes whenever the plants experience physical damage. Their ability to heal the plants from this damage is highly linked to their role as antioxidants. Especially when sweet potato is digested inside of our gastrointestinal (G.I.) tract, we may receive some of these same antioxidant benefits. Regardless of the season, sweet potatoes are always a versatile, healthy option for a colorful, filling meal. The 1° of Change Cookbook is a staple resource for nutritious and flavorful meal ideas. The recipe below is perfect for every season!


Sweet Potato and Spinach Curry with Quinoa:

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

3 ½ cups vegetable broth, divided

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons curry powder

⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 ½ cups coconut milk

8 cups (packed) fresh spinach

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Sea Salt and pepper


In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa and 2 cups of the broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.


Meanwhile in a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 6-8 minutes or until softened. Add curry powder and cayenne; cook, stirring for 30 seconds.

Stir in sweet potatoes and the remaining broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and boil for 12 minutes. Add coconut milk, reduce heat, and simmer. Cook an additional 3-7 minutes until sweet potatoes are tender. Stir in spinach and lime juice; simmer for 1-2 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Season to taste. Serve over quinoa. Serves 6.




Beta Carotene 4

Image Source


Cantaloupe is undoubtedly a summer fruit. It is light, fresh, sweet, and juicy. It grows naturally on the continents of Africa and Asia, and the cantaloupe belong to the same family as cucumbers, pumpkin, and squash. Don’t let the pastel color of cantaloupe’s flesh fool you, it is a very important source of beta carotene. Researchers have measured the carotenoid content of cantaloupe and determined that it is about 30 times higher than the beta carotene content of fresh oranges! Cantaloupes are best if the netting is an even, yellow color with little to no green. Cantaloupe is one of only a few fruits that continue to ripen after it is picked. Be sure to refrigerate as soon as the cantaloupe ripens to ensure maximum freshness. This cantaloupe recipe allows even those of us who are familiar with cantaloupe the opportunity to experience the fruit in a new way.