Beta carotene is a plant pigment that imparts bright color to red, orange, and yellow foods. Beta carotene is a provitamin A carotenoid, which means it may be converted into vitamin A by the body (retinol).
Beta carotene also has significant antioxidant effects.
Health benefits of beta-carotene
Beta carotene is a dietary source of provitamin A that also has antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants are chemicals that neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules. When free-radical levels in the body get too high, producing an imbalance, oxidative stress occurs, resulting in cellular and tissue damage.
Oxidative stress has been linked to the development of a number of chronic illnesses. Antioxidants such as beta carotene assist the body minimize or avoid oxidative damage.
1. Lung health
The lungs function correctly when the body produces vitamin A from beta carotene.
Furthermore, those who consume a lot of beta carotene-rich foods may have a decreased risk of some cancers, such as lung cancer.
Diets high in carotenoids, such as beta carotene, may benefit eye health and protect against illnesses of the eyes, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which causes vision loss.
Beta carotene may also assist to improve the health of your skin. This is most likely owing to its antioxidant properties.
Getting enough antioxidant micronutrients, such as beta carotene, can help preserve skin health and attractiveness by increasing the skin’s defenses against UV radiation.
Cell cycle arrest
One of the main characteristics of cancer cells is that they lose their capacity to regulate the cell cycle and limit the pace of proliferation. Carotenoids have been found to suppress tumour cell development by interfering with several stages of the cell cycle. Carotenoids have been shown to regulate cell cycle arrest in cancer cells through a variety of methods. Among the carotenoids, beta-carotene has been shown to have anti-cancer properties in human promyelocytic leukemia (HL-60) cells, which demonstrated a distinct change in the cell cycle’s G1 phase. Beta-carotene inhibits the viability of HL-60 cells by arresting them in the G1 phase. It also caused cell cycle arrest in human colon adenocarcinoma cells in the G2/M phase by lowering the expression of cyclin A, a critical regulator of the G2/M phase development.
Apoptosis inducing effect
Apoptosis is a type of planned cell death; a malfunction in the apoptosis pathway is thought to be a key feature of cancer cells. Membrane blebbing, nuclear condensation, and the development of apoptotic structures are some of the morphological alterations that occur. Anti-apoptotic proteins are overexpressed in cancer cells, while pro-apoptotic proteins are mutated, resulting in resistance to apoptosis. Carotenoids have been shown to have chemopreventive properties in humans, decreasing cancer incidence through apoptosis. Among the carotenoids, beta-carotene causes apoptosis in human leukemia, colon adenocarcinoma, and melanoma cell lines via activating caspase-3. In breast cancer cells, beta-carotene inhibited proliferation and induced apoptosis by activating the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR-γ) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. In lung cancer cells, beta-carotene inhibited proliferation and induced apoptosis by activating the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR-γ). Beta-carotene causes apoptosis in colon cancer cells at high doses (above 50µM).
One of the leading causes of death among cancer patients is tumour metastasis. It involves the acquisition of cancer cell adhesion, invasion, and migration in a multistep process. Metastasis suppressor gene Nm23-H1 (Non-metastatic protein 23 homologue 1), matrix metalloproteinases (MMP), and a few angiogenic factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and interleukins are some of the variables that influence the development of metastatic potential.
By lowering the amounts of collagen hydroxylproline, uronic acid, and hexamine, beta-carotene prevents metastasis. In the serum, it also decreased the activities of sialic acid and gamma glutamyl transpeptidase. The hydroxyproline in collagen increases cancer cell alignment, which leads to increased invasion and metastasis. Hexamine is a sugar derivative found in tumour cells that aids in the production of sialic acid, which increases tumour cell metastatic potential. Gamma glutamyl transpeptidase is a proliferative marker that also plays a function in metastasis.
Angiogenesis is the sprouting of new blood vessels from existing blood vessels, which is triggered by a variety of clinical diseases including cancer, psoriasis, chronic airway infection, and diabetic retinopathy. It is necessary for tumour development, invasion, and metastasis. As a result, angiogenesis inhibition is becoming a popular treatment strategy for preventing tumour development.
In SK-Hep-1, prostate cancer (PC-3) and B16F-10 cells, the effect of -carotene on the production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is investigated. Beta-carotene reduces the production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in SK-Hep-1 cells in a dose-dependent manner. Incubation of PC-3 cells with beta-carotene, on the other hand, dramatically enhanced the amount of VEGF. The number of tumor-directed capillaries was significantly decreased by beta-carotene, which was associated with altered serum cytokine levels. Beta-carotene therapy reduced the production of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2), MMP-9, prolyl hydroxylase, and lysyl oxidase, as well as decreased endothelial cell proliferation, migration, and tube formation.
Red, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables are high in beta carotene.
Beta carotene is abundant in the following foods:
• Green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale
• Sweet potato
• Squash (butternut)
• peppers, both red and yellow
• lettuce romaine
Beta carotene may also be present in a variety of plants and spices, including: