Your body converts the beta-carotene you consume in foods into the amount of vitamin A it needs. An essential nutrient, vitamin A helps to maintain your immune system, vision, skin and mucus membranes. Including foods rich in beta-carotene in your everyday diet helps your body meet its vitamin A requirement without supplements. Fruits with yellow or orange flesh contain significant amounts of beta-carotene, and a deeper color usually indicates a higher concentration of beta-carotene.
With its bright-orange flesh, cantaloupe tops the list of fruit sources of beta-carotene. A cup of cantaloupe balls contains 3,575 micrograms of beta-carotene, and a cup of reddish-pink watermelon balls provides 467 micrograms. Green-fleshed honeydew melon contains only 53 micrograms of beta-carotene per cup.
A fresh apricot has 383 micrograms of beta-carotene, and 1/4 cup of dried apricots contains 703 micrograms. A medium-sized peach contains 243 micrograms of beta-carotene, a medium-size nectarine has 213 micrograms and a fresh plum has 125 micrograms. A cup of sour red cherries provides 793 micrograms of beta-carotene, while a cup of sweet cherries has only 52 micrograms.
Among citrus fruits, pink or red grapefruits have the most beta-carotene, offering 844 micrograms per half of one fruit; white grapefruit has only 17 micrograms of beta-carotene per half fruit. A medium-sized tangerine has 136 micrograms of beta-carotene, while a medium-sized orange contains 93 micrograms and a half-cup of canned mandarin oranges packed in fruit juice and drained has 282 micrograms. Lemons and limes contain negligible amounts of beta-carotene.
A cup of fresh passion fruit has 1,753 micrograms of beta-carotene. A cup of raw purple passion fruit juice provides 1,035 micrograms of beta-carotene, while a cup of raw yellow passion fruit juice has 1,297 micrograms. A cup of fresh mango chunks contains 1,056 micrograms; you'll get 617 micrograms of beta-carotene from a cup of guava pieces and 397 micrograms from a cup of papaya chunks. A cup of pineapple chunks has only 58 micrograms of beta-carotene.
- Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center: Carotenoids
- Produce for Better Health Foundation: What Fruits Are High in Beta-Carotene?
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin A and Carotenoids
- MedlinePlus: Beta-Carotene
- American Cancer Society: Vitamin A and Beta Carotene
- SkipThePie.org: Nutrition Search Engine