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Beta Carotene

by Pierre S. Aoukar, MD and Hratch L. Karamanoukian, MD
Posted: March 2

Beta carotene is the pigment that gives bright yellow-orange vegetables their color and in our bodies is converted to vitamin A. Vitamin A, as we have already seen is a powerful antioxidant protecting artery walls against damage. Beta carotene itself is also an immune-system booster. For a long time there has been controversy over whether beta-carotene supplements can help protect against heart disease. Preliminary studies from Harvard two decades ago showed decreased risk of heart disease with beta-carotene supplementation. Since then much more recent and larger studies, ironically also from Harvard have shown that beta carotene supplements did nothing to reduce the risk of heart disease. However, a follow-up to these Harvard studies in 2001 found that high intake of vegetables rich in beta carotene significantly reduced the risk of developing heart disease. Participants who ate at least two and a half servings of vegetables per day for a period of 12 years were far less likely to develop coronary artery disease than those who consumed less than one serving of vegetables a day. The best sources of beta carotene are dark green leafy, yellow, orange and red vegetables. In decreasing content of beta carotene, some excellent sources include: coriander, radish, spinach and mint leaves, sweet potato, mango, carrot, pumpkin, and red bell pepper. Donít waste you money on supplements, these foods are loaded with beta carotene and other goodies in their natural form, undoubtedly conferring benefits for the heart.

Beta Carotene, Excerpt from the book: Everything Good For The Heart: The A to Z Guide, Aoukar PS and Karamanoukian HL. Magalhaes Scientific Press


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