Are Carrots Making You Orange?

Staff Writer
How eating orange foods can affect your skin tone

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

You may already know about the wondrous health benefits that orange foods, like beta-carotene rich carrots, vitamin C-infused oranges and potassium-loaded sweet potatoes, have to offer. But did you know that the same properties that make these foods orange could also give your skin a yellow-orange tinge as well?

Orange foods—such as carrots, oranges and sweet potatoes—all contain carotenoids, a substance which, along with having numerous health advantages, also has pigments that affect the skin’s normal color, especially when consumed in excess.  This pigment alteration is characterized by a condition called “carotenosis.”

Carotenosis acts fairly quickly, too. A study in Scotland confirmed that it only takes six weeks of increased carotenoid consumption for a person’s skin to start changing hue. In the study, researchers assessed students who had subsisted on junk food for 6 weeks and compared their skin tone to students who had a carotenoid-rich diet of fruits and vegetables. The study revealed the latter group’s skin to have a more yellowed skin tone, while the junk-food group’s skin had a more red hue.

Later, the researchers asked another group of students to evaluate the photographs of the former participants and to pick the people who looked healthier and more attractive. The students almost unanimously picked the students with a yellow hue over those with red.

Experts assure that a diet high in carotenoids has no disadvantages other than the potential cosmetic effects, because the beta-carotene found in carrots and sweet potatoes are converted to vitamin A on an “as needed basis.” This means there is minimal risk of vitamin A toxicity to outweigh the extreme health benefits of consuming these superfoods.   

The ultimate message: consumers should not shy away from their favorite orange foods for fear of carotenosis alone— they may be the key to healthier, more attractive skin. 

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