Carotenes are important due to three attributes: their color, their vitamin A activity and their potential as an anti-cancer agent.
Carotene is a substance in plants that can be quickly converted into vitamin A. Consumption of normal levels of vitamin A proves to be good for strong immunity, general health and good vision. Beta- carotene acts as an anti-oxidant. An anti-oxidant is a substance that protects our cells and tissues from damage. Anti-oxidants prove to be an important substance which lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases and some forms of cancer.
Possible health benefits of beta-carotene
1. Cancer: a high intake of food rich in beta-carotene is co-related with the reduced risk of certain cancers. The most definite correlation is with reduced risk of lung cancer. Beta-carotene has also been associated with reduced risk
2. It is also been noted that a moderate intake of carotene on a regular basis would help delay of age-related macular degeneration of eye. Which if not treated on time would result in permanent loss of sight.
3. Antioxidant combination supplements which contains beta-carotene may increase mortality in patients having liver ailments and diseases.
4. Diets consisting of fruits and vegetables high in beta- carotene appear to reduce the risk of heart diseases. Supplementation of beta carotene shows a lack of effect on heart disease risk.
5. Cataracts: Cataracts are areas of opacity in the lens of the eye. Although the lens of the eye contains little beta- carotene, it has been suggested that beta-carotene may protect against cataracts simply by decreasing the level of oxidative damage in the body as a whole.
Sources: In the animal foods, vitamin A is present in the form of retinol and it's allied organic compounds, which are highly bioavailable. Eggs are good sources of vitamin A in the Indian diets. Green leafy vegetables and yellow orange fruits and vegetables like mango, papaya and carrots are rich source of beta-carotene.