What are the dietary sources of carotene?

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Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics
The best dietary sources of carotene are fruits and vegetables that are orange, yellow, and green in color. The deeper/more intense the color is a sign of higher carotene level. Examples of dietary sources of carotene include carrots, sweet potato, winter squash, cantaloupe, spinach, broccoli, lettuce.
Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine
Carotenes are found in all plant foods. In general, the greater the intensity of color, the higher the level of carotenes. In green leafy vegetables, beta-carotene is the predominant carotene. Orange-colored fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, apricots, mangoes, yams, and squash, are excellent sources of alpha-, beta-, and gamma-carotenes, but in most plant foods, other non-provitamin A carotenes typically predominate. For example, yellow vegetables have higher concentrations of yellow carotenes (xanthophylls), hence a lowered provitamin A activity. However, these compounds, including lutein, have shown significant health benefits due to their antioxidant effects.

The twenty foods richest in these important carotenes are:
  • Corn
  • Kiwifruit
  • Red grapes
  • Squash (zucchini, pumpkin, butternut, etc.)
  • Bell peppers (red > orange > green > yellow)
  • Greens (spinach, kale, chard, etc.
  • Cucumber
  • Peas
  • Honeydew melon
  • Celery
  • Green grapes
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Scallions
  • Greenbeans
  • Orange
  • Broccoli
  • Apple
  • Mango
  • Peach
  • Tomato paste or juice
Cabbage, berries, and plums, contain a large portion of non-vitamin A-active carotenes, such as lycopene that are also showing health benefits. Legumes, grains, and seeds are also significant sources of carotenes. Carotenes are found in various animal foods, such as salmon and other fish, egg yolks, milk, and poultry. Good supplemental forms of mixed carotenes include palm oil carotene products, algal products, carrot oil, and the various "green drinks" on the market, such as dehydrated barley greens and wheat grass.
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