Wellness Wednesday: Mo’ Beta-Carotene

Happy hump day friends! I’m not gonna lie, my energy levels have been LOW this week and I am chalking it up to the June gloom we are experiencing here in SoCal. I know this is the last place in the country where we should be complaining about the weather but it seems to be affecting people’s moods because it’s something we’re not used to. It’s amazing how the minute you start experiencing something other than the norm you realize how much a thing like weather or temperature can affect you.

DSC_2716Needless to say I’ve been relying heavily on nutrient-dense foods to keep my energy levels up and also making a point to get outside regardless of the temperature or weather. When I was shopping for ingredients this week I noticed how I was reaching for all the bright things such as, purple cabbage, green spinach, orange sweet potatoes, and it got me thinking about what makes these foods so enticing. Sure the taste is one thing but the actual brilliance in each hue is what really draws you in.

It’s a popular school of thought to “eat the rainbow” and fill your plate with as many colors as you can. But I wanted to go deeper; I wanted to find the why. So I decided to start with the sweet potato, when you cut into them and especially after you cook them you cannot miss that electric orange color. This hue is actually called beta-carotene.

DSC_2715Beta-carotene is the pigment found in plants, like the orange in my sweet potato, it gives both fruits and veggies the vibrant oranges and yellows we see in the produce isle. When we consume beta-carotene it is then converted to vitamin A in our bodies.

The wonderful thing about vitamin A is it acts as an antioxidant and supports major things inside and outside our bodies including skin, neurological function and our vision. There are tons of benefits which support the notion we should be eating more of these bright fruits and veggies but I chose my top favorites below to keep it simple.divider

Top 5 Benefits of Beta-carotene

  1. Eye pleaser-antioxidants such as beta-carotene are effective in slowing down the progression of macular degeneration by preventing oxidative stress.
  2. Respiratory reliever-eating beta-carotene helps improve respiratory and pulmonary function which minimizes symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, phlegm.
  3. Skin healer-beta-carotene helps prevent the formation of UV-induced erythema (skin irritation and redness) and has also been found to protect skin from sunburn by increasing the basal defense against UV light skin damage
  4. Prenatal buddy-vitamin A (what beta-carotene turns into inside the body) helps with lung development of the fetus during pregnancy.
  5. Antioxidant richness-beta-carotene (a carotenoid) is known to help prevent chronic disease by protecting the body from free radicals.divider

Foods rich in beta-carotene

Carrots

Pumpkin

Spinach

Sweet potato

Kale

Cantaloupe

Mango

Apricot

My favorite way to enjoy sweet potatoes is also one the easiest ways to enjoy them in my opinion. Check out my simply fit recipe below for spicy sweet potato wedges and relish in all that oh so good for you beta-carotene.DSC_2723

dividerMSF Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges

Ingredients

1 medium sweet potato (washed & dried)

avocado oil

Himalayan pink salt

Cracked black pepper

Crushed red pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut sweet potato into 1/2” even wedges and toss in bowl with oil and seasonings. Lay flat on baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until crisp and brown on one side. Flip and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until a fork can be pushed through and both sides are golden. Enjoy! Store in airtight container in the refrigerator up to one week.

dividerDSC_2726Wishing you a bright rest of your week filled with lots of vitamin A (and D!). I’m off to watch Homeland, this season has been amazing! Anyone else watching something I need to see?

<3 Megan

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