Beta Carotene, Carotenoids
Carotenoids are the brightly coloured pigments that are found in vegetables and fruits that are high in colour, such as carrots, beetroot and mango. Carotenoids have antioxidant properties that help the body fight free radical damage and toxins. There are over 600 different kinds of carotenoids, including alpha carotene, beta carotene, lutein and lycopene. Some carotenoids are converted into vitamin A within the body. It is important to get carotenoids through your diet, as they can boost your immune system and help you to tackle viruses.
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All you need to know about Beta Carotene, Carotenoids
What are carotenoids?
Carotenoids are compounds that are responsible for brightly-coloured pigments in fruit and vegetables. They are usually absorbed with fat by the body. Cooking foods that are high in carotenoids boosts their nutritional value. There are two types of carotenoid – carotenes and xanthophylls. Both have antioxidant properties, and the body also converts them into vitamin A, which is essential to keep the body healthy and working properly.
Which foods contain carotenoids?
You should ideally get all the carotenoids you need through your diet. Foods that are high in carotenoids include kale, spinach, watermelon, carrots, mangoes, oranges, peppers, tomatoes and yams. By consuming carotenoids, you can protect yourself from infection by boosting your immune system. Carotenoids are also converted into vitamin A, which is important for eye health, development and immune system function.
Can carotenoid supplements help eye health?
Yes – consuming foods that are rich in carotenoids can protect cells in the eyes and prevent macular degeneration, which is one of the main causes of blindness. Carotenoids can also protect the retina from degeneration. Carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin can help your retinas to absorb blue light. Research has indicated that consuming at least 6mg of the carotenoid lutein per day can lower the risk of macular degeneration by around 43%, and can also help prevent eye damage.
Can carotenoids help you beat cancer?
Carotenoids are high in antioxidants, which help our bodies protect themselves against damage to cells, viruses and bacteria. By increasing the number of carotenoids you consume, you are boosting the number of protective cells within your body. Carotenoids can help reduce the risk of developing cancers, and in particular, lung cancer. Some smokers who are trying to give up smoking take carotenoid supplements to decrease the damage to their body, although it is always advised that you give up smoking altogether to allow your lungs to heal successfully. Carotenoids have also been linked to lowering rates of skin cancer, because the body converts them into vitamin A which helps to maintain healthy skin, protecting it from sun damage.