Atherosclerosis where fats narrow the main arteries, sometimes leading to a heart attack can be helped by taking beta-carotene, new research has discovered.
The culprit seems to be low-density lipoprotein (LDL) which starts blocking arteries when it becomes depleted of its own, natural anti-oxidants.
Scientists from the Lipid Research Unit at Haifa, Israel, decided to test to see if regular supplementation of an anti-oxidant such as beta-carotene could help boost the natural levels of the LDLs.
Healthy, non-smoking volunteers aged between 20 and 30 were given 180 mg of beta-carotene every day for two weeks. They found that the tendency of the LDLs to oxidate was reduced by nearly half in just two weeks of treatment.
They warn, though, that excessive use of beta-carotene over a longer period of up to three months could lead to a yellowing of the skin (Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine 1995;5:13-22).