What Are Carotenoids?

It’s Fall, y’all! Pumpkin season is upon us…along with squash and root vegetable season. But what is all that orange about? Orange is more than just a fall color. Vegetables sporting an orange hue are significant sources of chemicals called carotenoids. Alpha and beta carotene are precursors to vitamin A, meaning the body can convert them into vitamin A when needed. Why is that important? Vitamin A is needed for healthy eyesight, immune system function, bone formation and cell communication, to name a few. Research indicates that adequate intake of vitamin A precursors through food may also help prevent cancer. Watch your supplements, however! Supplement-based carotenoids and vitamin A may actually have some negative effects. Ask your doctor before supplementing. Your body generally prefers its nutrients in food-form J

Because carotenoids are fat-soluble (meaning they mix with fats, not water), they are better absorbed when eaten with some healthy fats. So, have a little butter on your sweet potato, or roast your butternut squash in some olive oil to help maximize your carotenoid intake. See? Now you have a comeback when someone judges your pumpkin obsession. Dig in!

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