According to “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” recent review, carotenoids could reduce the risk of developing age related cataracts. Carotenoids act like antioxidants, fights cancer, they can be converted in vitamin A by the body (an essential vitamin for vision, growth and development), they have anti-flamatory properties, and benefits the immune system.
Carotenoids are plant pigments responsible for the bright red, yellow and orange color in a lot of fruits and vegetables. These pigments play an important role in the plant health. When you consume foods that contains carotenoids you get protective health benefits as well. Caroteniods can also be found in algae and bacteria.
For your body to be able to absorb this amazing nutrient, you need to consume carotenoids with fats, otherwise your body wont absorb it, and tomatoes carotene is better absorbed when it’s cooked. There are over 1,000 types of carotenoids these includes: alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene. Carotenoids are divided are in two groups: xanthophylls and carotene. Xanthophylls is mostly the yellow colored foods while carotenes are the orange ones.
Lutein and zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenes found in the retina and lens of your eye, which is why studies recommend diets high in these carotene to help slow the development of age related macular degeneration. These carotenes are responsible for your central vision and protects the retina from blue lights. Lutein and zeaxanthin also has proven to be an antioxidant that helps prevent cholesterol from building up in the arteries and clog them. These carotenes can be found in collard greens, spinach, kale, summer squash, pumpkin, paprika, yellow fruits and avocados.
Beta-cryptoxanthin is a good source of vitamin A, however beta-carotene as double amount of it, and may be effective in preventing lung cancer. Beta-cryptoxanthin may also be helpful in reducing the risk of chronic inflammation such as rheumatoid arthritis. Researches suggests that somethings as a glass of orange juice a day could be helpful in preventing arthritis. Great sources of this carotenoid is papaya, mango, oranges and yellow foods such as corn and bell peppers.
This is the best source of vitamin A when it comes to carotenoids. Beta-carotene can also protect against sunburn, may help lower the risk of metabolic syndrome which includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels and excess fat around the waits and it is also associated with a reduced risk of lung cancer. However if smokers consume beta-carotene in supplements shape, their changes of lung cancer risks are extremely high, but if source is from foods risks wont increase. Best sources of beta-carotene are cantaloupe, mangoes, papaya, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale and pumpkin.
Alpha-carotene produces half the amount of vitamin A than beta-carotene, but still is a source of it. This carotenoid is found in similar foods of the beta-carotene, however it is less understood yet. However this carotene has been given more attention and some studies has seen a potential longevity benefits on it. Researches has also found that high blood levels were inversely associated with cancer death, cardiovascular disease and all other illness causes.
The correlation between high levels of alpha-carotene and a lower risk of death from diabetes and lower respiratory disease were especially high. Studies has showed that people with the highest blood levels of alpha-carotene were less likely to die from hearth disease. Good sources of alpha-carotene are pumpkin, carrots, tomatoes, collards, tangerines, winter squash and peas.
Lycopene is a bright red pigment responsible for the color in tomatoes, guavas, grapefruit s and watermelons. Lycopene can act as an potent antioxidant, it’s been linked to reduced prostate cancer risks, it may promote bone health and help prevent the development of osteoporosis. Additionally, lycopene may decrease stroke risks on men. Researches had fond that of all the carotenoids, lycopene was most effective at deactivating singlet oxygen, a harmful free radical. Lycopene can also be found in papaya, carrots, asparagus, red cabbage, red bell peppers and parsley.
Even that carotenoids are mostly on red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, they can also be found in other green foods.