Alpha-carotene is a phytonutrient in the carotenoid family, which also includes beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein zeaxanthin. Alpha-carotene is a provitamin A carotenoid, meaning it can be converted by the body to retinol (vitamin A).

The term “carotene” is used for several related substances having an orange pigment that’s important for photosynthesis. Carotenes contribute to photosynthesis by transmitting the light energy it absorbs to chlorophyll.

Health Benefits of Alpha-Carotene

Population studies suggest that diets high in carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

As with most nutrients, it is best to get alpha-carotene in its natural form—from food sources.

Like its other carotenoid cousins, alpha-carotene is fat soluble. It is best used by the body when it is cooked and eaten with a small amount of oil. Research shows as little as 3-5 g of fat in a meal helps to ensure carotenoid absorption.

Foods High in Alpha-Carotene

Foods High in Alpha-Carotene

Food Serving Alpha-Carotene (mcg)
Pumpkin, canned 1 cup 11,748
Carrot juice, canned 1 cup 10,247
Carrots, cooked 1 cup 5,891
Carrots, raw 1 medium 2,028
Winter squash, baked 1 cup 1,398
Collards, cooked 1 cup 216

Alpha-carotene - Found in:

Squash, Carrots, Sweet Potato, Apricots, Mangos,
James Allen Olson, PhD, Iowa State University (deceased) Cheryl L. Rock, PhD, University of California, San Diego A. Catharine Ross, PhD, The Pennsylvania State University Barbara A. Underwood, PhD (23 April 2006). Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin A. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements website. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved on 26 October 2007.Jalal F, Nesheim MC, Agus Z, Sanjur D, Habicht JP. Serum retinol concentrations in children are affected by food sources of beta-carotene, fat intake, and anthelmintic drug treatment. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998;68(3):623-629. van Het Hof KH, West CE, Weststrate JA, Hautvast JG. Dietary factors that affect the bioavailability of carotenoids. J Nutr. 2000;130(3):503-506. During A, Harrison EH. Intestinal absorption and metabolism of carotenoids: insights from cell culture. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2004;430

About The Author

Kelley Herring, founder of Healing Gourmet, is a natural nutrition enthusiast with a background in biochemistry. Her passion is educating on how foods promote health and protect against disease and creating simple and delicious recipes for vibrant health and enjoyment.

Kelley Herring – who has written posts on Healing Gourmet.

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