Beta carotene is a reddish-orange pigment found in fruits, vegetables and other plants. It has two roles in the body. It can be converted into vitamin A (retinol) the body needs more of a boost or it can act as an antioxidant and provide protection-fighting immune cells and in fact, the more beta carotene you have in your system, the greater the increase in protective immune cells.
Recent Indian University research showed that women who ate one additional large carrot or one-half cup of sweet potatoes (or other foods rich in beta carotene) every day slashed their risk of heart attack by 22 percent and stroke by 40 to 70 percent.
Although not a leading antioxidant in itself, beta carotene did play a major role in opening the door to antioxidant research – from it, we’ve gained much promising research about many strong antioxidant carotenoids and other plant nutrients.