Nov 13, 2015

Carotenoids

They are yellow, orange, and red pigments in plants. The most common carotenoids in a Western diet are alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene. Each of these carotenoids carries a distinct set of actions, benefits and originating fruits and vegetables. There are more than 600 carotenoids.

Carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, papaya, watermelon, cantaloupe, mangos, spinach, kale, tomatoes, bell peppers, and oranges are among the fruits and vegetables in which carotenoids can be found.

In order to be properly absorbed, carotenoids should be consumed with a fat. Carotenoids are associated with antioxidant activity, eye health, immune system activity, intercellular communication, and reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.

The body can convert alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin into vitamin A (retinol), which is associated with anti-aging and immune system function. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids found in the retina and are associated with lower risks of macular degeneration.