Sweet potatoes, carrots and leafy greens, what do they have in common? They are all plant sources of vitamin A, able to support the immune system and eyesight, characterized by anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor action. And it does not end here, in fact, based on a scientific research published a few weeks ago in the prestigious journal JAMA by an American team of Brown University (Kim et al, JAMA Dermatology, Jul 2019), vitamin A introduced into the body with the diet is able to protect the skin by decreasing the risk of developing skin cancers.
The scientists have reached this conclusion by analyzing the habits of 48,400 men and 75,170 women, followed for a period of 26 years. The participants, for the purpose of the research, were divided into five groups based on the intake of vitamin A. In particular, the group characterized by the highest daily intake of this vitamin took it in an amount equivalent to a medium-sized baked sweet potato or two large carrots. Instead, the group with the lowest intake of vitamin A, but always higher than that prescribed by the American guidelines, took a quantity equivalent to one third of cup of fried sweet potatoes or a small carrot. What emerged from the study was that the group with the highest intake of vitamin A also were 17% less likely to develop skin cancer, in particular, the research focused on squamous cell carcinoma, a very common cancer of the skin that tends to affect the most photo-exposed parts of the body. The scientists also observed that the sources of vitamin A were mainly given by the diet, and not by supplements, and, in addition, that these sources were fruits and vegetables, therefore sweet potatoes, carrots, apricots, leafy greens vegetables but also cantaloupe. There are also animal sources of vitamin A such as milk, liver and some types of fish but, as pointed out by scientists, a too high intake of vitamin A from animal sources could cause nausea, liver intoxication and increased risk of osteoporosis.
So, here another good reason to include more fruit and vegetables in your diet!