Top 10 Foods Highest in Beta Carotene

Top 10 Foods Highest in Beta Carotene

Beta Carotene is a carotenoid compound responsible for giving fruits and vegetables their orange pigment. A powerful antioxidant, beta-carotene has been found to help protect against cancer and aging (however beta-carotene supplements can increase lung cancer risk for smokers).

Beta-carotene is a fat-soluble vitamin, so eating the following foods with a fat like olive oil or nuts can help absorption. Foods high in beta-carotene include sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, butternut squash, cantaloupe, lettuce, red bell peppers, apricots, broccoli, and peas. There is no official recommended daily allowance (RDA) for beta-carotene, but a figure of 10800mcg per day can be used as a general target.

Below is a list of the 10 best beta-carotene foods. Use the nutrient ranking of over 200 foods high in beta-carotene to sort by 100 gram serving sizes and find even more foods.

List of Foods High in Beta-Carotene

Sweet Potatoes1 Baked Sweet Potatoes
Beta-carotene
per Cup
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
23018mcg
(213% RDA)
11509mcg
(107% RDA)
25576mcg
(237% RDA)
Carrots2 Carrots
Beta-carotene
per Cup Cooked
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
12998mcg
(120% RDA)
8332mcg
(77% RDA)
47611mcg
(441% RDA)
A Bowl of Spinach3 Dark Leafy Greens (Spinach)
Beta-carotene
per Cup Cooked
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
11318mcg
(105% RDA)
6288mcg
(58% RDA)
54678mcg
(506% RDA)

More Dark Leafy Greens High in Beta-Carotene

  • 98% RDA in 1 cup of cooked kale
  • 96% RDA in 1 cup of cooked mustard greens
  • 79% RDA in 1 cup of cooked collards
  • 61% RDA in 1 cup of cooked beet greens
  • 59% RDA in 1 cup of cooked Swiss chard

See all vegetables high in beta-carotene.

Half a Butternut Squash4 Butternut Squash
Beta-carotene
per Cup Cooked
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
9369mcg
(87% RDA)
4570mcg
(42% RDA)
22850mcg
(212% RDA)
A cantaloupe with a cantaloupe wedge5 Cantaloupe
Beta-carotene
per Cup
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
3575mcg
(33% RDA)
2020mcg
(19% RDA)
11882mcg
(110% RDA)
Lettuce6 Romaine Lettuce
Beta-carotene
per Cup
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
2456mcg
(23% RDA)
5226mcg
(48% RDA)
61482mcg
(569% RDA)
Sweet Bell Peppers7 Red Bell Peppers
Beta-carotene
per Cup Cooked
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
2059mcg
(19% RDA)
1525mcg
(14% RDA)
10893mcg
(101% RDA)
  • 3% DV in 1 cup of cooked green bell peppers

See the complete nutrition comparison.

Half an apricot8 Apricots
Beta-carotene
per Cup
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
1696mcg
(16% RDA)
1094mcg
(10% RDA)
4558mcg
(42% RDA)

More Fruits High in Beta Carotene

  • 15% RDA in 1 cup of pink grapefruit
  • 10% RDA in 1 cup of mangoes
  • 6% RDA in 1 cup of guavas

See all fruits high in beta-carotene.

Broccoli Stalk9 Broccoli
Beta-carotene
per Cup Cooked
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
1449mcg
(13% RDA)
929mcg
(9% RDA)
5309mcg
(49% RDA)
Podded green peas10 Podded Peas
Beta-carotene
per Cup Cooked
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
1216mcg
(11% RDA)
760mcg
(7% RDA)
2923mcg
(27% RDA)

See All 200 Foods High in Beta Carotene

Where does the RDA for Beta-Carotene come from?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is the average daily requirement for a particular nutrient. With vitamin A the requirement is set in terms of retinol activity equivalents (RAE).

The RDA for an adult male is 900mcg RAE. The RDA for an adult female is 700mcg, although it can go as high as 1,300mcg during lactation. (2)

For beta-carotene from foods 1mcg RAE = 12mcg beta-carotene. So the RDA for beta-carotene is equal to the RDA for RAE times 12. We use the 900mcg RDA to set the RDA for beta-carotene, so it is 900mcg x 12 = 10800mcg.

Warnings

Avoid beta-carotene from supplements. While eating a lot of beta-carotene in foods is considered harmless, beta-carotene in the form of supplements can increase the risk of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. (2)

Beta-carotene supplements are especially risky for:
  • Pregnant and breast-feeding women
  • Those who have had angioplasty
  • Those who have had asbestos exposure
  • Smokers

Again, these risks only come from the form of beta-carotene found in supplements, and in high doses. Beta-carotene from foods is considered safe and healthy. Only consume beta-carotene supplements under the supervision of a medical professional. (3)

About the Data

Data for the curated food lists comes from the USDA Food Data Central Repository.

You can check our data against the USDA by clicking the (Source) link at the bottom of each food listing.

Note: When checking data please be sure the serving sizes are the same. In the rare case you find any difference, please contact us and we will fix it right away.


View more food groups with the nutrient ranking tool, or see ratios with the nutrient ratio tool.

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Data Sources and References

  1. U.S. Agricultural Research Service Food Data Central
  2. Office of Dietary Supplements on Vitamin A and Carotene
  3. Medline Plus on Beta-Carotene