The daily diet does not always provide the necessary amounts of beta-carotene: yellow-orange antioxidant pigments that protect us from the effects of age, prevent major diseases and protect our cells from deterioration and degeneration.
These healthy pigments not only give carrot, melon, apricot, tomato and countless fruits and vegetables their characteristic bright color, but also provide the human body with powerful natural protection against aging and environmental agents. such as ultraviolet radiation, and against some of its main deadly enemies such as cancer and cardiovascular disorders.
Beta-carotene, also called beta-carotene or provitamin A, is the best known of the carotenoids: a family of natural yellow-orange pigments that are incorporated into the body through plant foods and that once inside the body are transformed into vitamin A, as required by our physiology.
“Its benefits and protective role for health are due to its antioxidant function, consisting of protecting cells and tissues from deterioration and degeneration derived from oxidation, which is produced by the action of molecules called free radicals, which are of the main causes of aging and diseases of the body ”, comments nutritionist Belinda Suárez, who emphasizes that, despite the fact that beta-carotene protectors are present in numerous reddish, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, they are inexpensive and available Throughout the year, they often have to be reinforced with supplements, because not enough are taken through diet.
The more free radicals there are in the body, the more cellular damage occurs and in more years the life expectancy is reduced. The more antioxidants circulate through the body, the more health, longevity and quality of life we will have. These coloring substances, precursors of vitamin A, help the body to defend itself naturally against the sun's rays, which is why specialists recommend their consumption to people regularly exposed to ultraviolet rays, UVA.
"Being rich in antioxidants, beta-carotenes neutralize the action of free radicals produced by UVA rays and, in the long term, act as a protector against skin cancers", explains dermatologist Aurora Guerra.
To combat burns, dehydration, loss of skin elasticity, premature aging, allergy or the risk of contracting dermatological cancer, Dr. Guerra recommends the regular consumption of beta-carotene, through diet or pharmacy supplements, which, although it does not prevent sunburn by itself, it helps the skin to protect itself from the weather and the sun.
The pumpkin or squash is the fruit of the squash, a creeping or climbing cucurbit plant, with large leaves and yellow funnel-shaped flowers. The fleshy fruits have different shapes, and their color varies from orange to green. The vegetable is available in the markets practically all year round.
Its color already reveals its richness in antioxidant vitamins: beta-carotene and vitamin C that strengthens the immune system. In fact, squash has a carotenoid called phytoene, which helps prevent some types of cancer. Very rich in water and fiber, its pulp favors digestion, intestinal activity and the elimination of toxins. It acts as a diuretic, thus relieving kidney problems. The juice of the plant is an excellent vegetable tonic, which provides copper, iron, magnesium and potassium.
Also, it helps to eliminate fat, which is why it is a food present in weight loss diets, and it only has 25 calories per 100 grams. In addition to being purifying, squash is extremely easy to digest and very rarely causes allergies, making it an ideal food for children. Pumpkin seeds fight worms.
In the market they can be found in complete pieces, which can be huge (there are giant specimens up to 30 kg.), In pieces or slices. If we buy it whole, we must make sure that it does not have stains or cracks on the skin. If it is bought cut, and its color must be uniform, without mold. If the skin is rough it indicates that it is too mature, and if it is very thin it is a sign that it is not yet mature.
To keep it whole, we must put it in a cool and dry place, well ventilated, in this way it can last up to 6 months. Once cut, it is advisable to consume it as soon as possible, in the meantime it can be kept in the fridge wrapped with transparent film. It can also be frozen raw, although when defrosting it loses volume, or cooked.
Pumpkin pairs equally well with sweet or savory dishes. It is perfect for roasting, grinding, preparing in the form of a cream, sauce or stuffed. It is the ideal partner for legumes and is delicious sautéed with spices. It combines very well with cheeses, hot spices, garlic, but you can also use it in croquettes, tortillas, rice and many other stews.
PROTAGONIC YELLOW:Natural foods of this color protect against some types of cancer, help eyesight (especially night vision), keep the heart healthy as well as the immune system. Bright yellow or orange foods contain Vitamin C and the phytochemical carotene. Foods in this group include yellow apples, cantaloupe, grapefruit, lime, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, peaches, yellow pears, pineapple, carrots, yellow bell peppers, potatoes, squash yellow, yellow tomatoes, quince, papaya, and children's favorites: tangerines.