Put down the bronzer—all you need for a healthy glow is a helping of carotenoid-rich fruits and veggies. According to a recent study published in Evolution and Human Behavior, people who took in a daily equivalent of 15 mg of beta-carotene supplements ended up with a golden tone to their skin, one that others perceived as attractive.
But before you start popping supplements or eating enough carrots for a herd of bunnies, know this: To max out the nutritional value of your carotenoid intake, blending carotenoid-packed produce with healthy fats (like yogurt or avocado) is key. The body needs fats to convert these vitamin A precursors into the real deal, explains Rob Danoff, DO, program director of family and emergency medicine residency health program at Aria Health in Philadelphia.
These simple smoothie recipes are bursting with carotenoid-rich produce like kale, spinach, and carrots—and tons of flavor.
Canned pumpkin packs in 17 mg of beta-carotene and 12 mg of alpha-carotene per cup. Our bodies convert both forms of carotene into the vitamin A precursor retinol, and then combines it with fat molecules to form vitamin A, a skin-supporting nutrient essential for cell growth and development, Danoff says.
½ c canned pure pumpkin, frozen in ice cube tray
7 oz or 2% Greek-style yogurt
½ c water
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
½ tsp pumpkin spice pie
BLEND all ingredients until smooth.
NUTRITION (per serving) 360 cal, 14 g fat, 4 g sat fat, 78.6 mg sodium, 38 g carbs, 25.5 g sugars, 11 g fiber, 25.6 g protein
Orange-hued fruits and veggies are typically carotenoid rockstars, and mango is no exception, with 2 mg of beta-carotene in each cup of the raw fruit. That’s 2,000 times the .001 mg the National Institutes of Health declares adequate for adults each day.
¼ c mango cubes
¼ c mashed ripe avocado
½ c mango juice
¼ c fat-free vanilla yogurt
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp sugar
6 ice cubes
COMBINE the mango, avocado, mango juice, yogurt, lime juice, sugar, and ice cubes in a blender. Process until smooth. Garnish with sliced mango or strawberry, if desired.
NUTRITION (per serving) 269 cal, 8.7 g fat, 1.3 g sat fat, 46 mg sodium, 49.5 g carbs, 5.6 g fiber, 4 g protein
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