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 10800μg 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 Potatoes

#1: Baked Sweet Potatoes

Beta-carotene
per Cup
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
23018μg
(213% RDA)
11509μg
(107% RDA)
25576μg
(237% RDA)
Carrots

#2: Carrots

Beta-carotene
per Cup Cooked
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
12998μg
(120% RDA)
8332μg
(77% RDA)
47611μg
(441% RDA)
A Bowl of Spinach

#3: Dark Leafy Greens (Spinach)

Beta-carotene
per Cup Cooked
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
11318μg
(105% RDA)
6288μg
(58% RDA)
54678μg
(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 Squash

#4: Butternut Squash

Beta-carotene
per Cup Cooked
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
9369μg
(87% RDA)
4570μg
(42% RDA)
22850μg
(212% RDA)
A cantaloupe with a cantaloupe wedge

#5: Cantaloupe

Beta-carotene
per Cup
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
3575μg
(33% RDA)
2020μg
(19% RDA)
11882μg
(110% RDA)
Lettuce

#6: Romaine Lettuce

Beta-carotene
per Cup
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
2456μg
(23% RDA)
5226μg
(48% RDA)
61482μg
(569% RDA)
Sweet Bell Peppers

#7: Red Bell Peppers

Beta-carotene
per Cup Cooked
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
2059μg
(19% RDA)
1525μg
(14% RDA)
10893μg
(101% RDA)
  • 3% DV in 1 cup of cooked green bell peppers

See the complete nutrition comparison.

Half an apricot

#8: Apricots

Beta-carotene
per Cup
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
1696μg
(16% RDA)
1094μg
(10% RDA)
4558μg
(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 Stalk

#9: Broccoli

Beta-carotene
per Cup Cooked
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
1449μg
(13% RDA)
929μg
(9% RDA)
5309μg
(49% RDA)
Podded green peas

#10: Podded Peas

Beta-carotene
per Cup Cooked
Beta-carotene
per 100g
Beta-carotene
per 200 Calories
1216μg
(11% RDA)
760μg
(7% RDA)
2923μg
(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 900μg RAE. The RDA for an adult female is 700μg, although it can go as high as 1,300μg during lactation. (2)

For beta-carotene from foods 1μg RAE = 12μg 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 900μg x 12 = 10800μg.

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)


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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

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