Carotenoids are stout-soluble and highly colored plant pigments usually found in many vegetables.
These carotenoids should be dissolved in a small amount of stout so that the intestine can absorb them. As for the dietary supplements, carotenoids include oil which helps them more available to the body compared to the carotenoids in food. In order to absorb carotenoids from vegetables, it is best to cook them in oil or consume them in a meal containing at least a tiny amount of stout.
Carotenoids in Foods
Examples of carotenoids are alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-crytoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene.
- Beta-carotene is a yellow-orange provitamin A type of carotenoid. When the body has low vitamin A, it can convert beta-carotene into vitamin a to prevent vitamin A deficiency. Beta-carotene can be found in broccoli, carrot, carrot juice, cantaloupe, kale, dandelion greens, spinach, pumpkin, turnip greens, winter squash and sweet potatoes.
A diet rich in beta-carotene reduces the risk of developing certain cancers but beta-carotene supplements are not advisable for the general public unless supervised by a physician.
- Alpha-carotene is also a provitamin A carotenoid but it is not recommended as a dietary supplement. Alpha-carotene can be found in carrots, collard greens, plantains, peas, pumpkin, tomatoes, tangerines and raw winter squash.
- Excellent sources of beta- crytoxanthin include papaya, pumpkin, red bell pepper, tangerines, nectarines, carrots, watermelon, yellow corn, oranges and orange juice.
- Lycopene can be found in baked beans, grapefruit, canned catsup, pink marinara sauce, sweet red peppers, raw vegetable juice cocktail, watermelon, tomato, tomato soup, tomato juice, tomato paste and puree. A recent study showed that men with the highest intake of lycopene were less likely to have prostate cancer.
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin are carotenoids found in the human eye and don’t have a vitamin A activity. Excellent sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include kale, squash, spinach, turnip, peas, broccoli, Brussels sprout, yellow corn, summer squash, collard, and mustard greens.
Carotenoids as Antioxidant
Carotenoids are antioxidants that prevent free radicals from damaging the parts of the body’s cells like cell walls and DNA. Free radicals are molecules that are formed during metabolism and with exposure to toxins like cigarette smoke. These free radicals cause hurt during oxidation. Antioxidants attach themselves to free radicals thereby preventing them from reacting with other molecules. There are claims that carotenoids can protect people against cancer but these are just based on their antioxidant properties.