Reader Lucy wants to know if there’s beta-carotene in sweet potatoes, and if there is, is it really true that too much beta-carotene can turn your skin orange? The answer is that it can indeed, Lucy! Turning orange as a result of too many carotenoids is a clinical condition known as carotenodermia. It’s harmless, usually seen in babies (and aggressive vegetarians), but it can give the skin a noticeable orange-y or yellowy tint. Supposedly, pediatricians are seeing a lot more carotenodermia these days, presumably because parents are becoming increasingly vigilant about giving kids their veggies.
A wide range of fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids, so you can get it even if you don’t eat carrots. Spinach is full of them, as are apples, even milk has some. Clearly I’m going to have to be careful with my bumper crop of sweet potatoes. If my hands start to look tan in my tutorial photos, you’ll know why.