There are over 700 different carotenoids, of which about 50 have a comparable effect with that of pro-vitamin A. Carotene and lycopene, the most well-known, occur mainly in red, yellow and orange vegetables and fruit.
Carotenoids also belong to the group of xanthophylls, which includes the substances of lutein and zeaxanthin. These can be found in leafy green vegetables.
Carotenoid content in foods depends on the variety, season, maturity, growing conditions, harvesting conditions and storage conditions. For example, the outer lettuce leaves contain four times more lutein and beta-carotene than the inner leaves. Therefore, it is well worth it to eat even the darker coloured parts of vegetables and fruits.
- Antioxidant (meaning, they prevent sensitive molecules’ reaction with oxygen)
- Stimulate the immune system
May reduce the risk of:
- Certain types of cancer
- Cardiovascular disease
- Age-related eye diseases
- Possibly also metabolic syndromes (high blood pressure, diabetes type 2 and elevated blood lipid levels in cases of overweight) and vascular constriction
Beta carotenoids (yellow/orange): carrots, apricots, pumpkin, spinach, kale and broccoli.
Lutein and zeaxanthin (green): kale, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, peas and pumpkin.
Lycopene (red): tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit.
It should be noted that:
Carotenoids are sensitive to light and oxygen, but are heat-stable.
Xanthophylls, however, should not be heated for too long a time.
Fat promotes the absorption of carotenoids.
Recommendations for daily requirements have not yet been scientifically determined.
Phytochemicals should not be taken as isolated in tablets because this may cause undesirable side effects. Other ingredients (such as fats, vitamins, minerals, etc.) in food are most likely essential, in order that they can exert healthy effects on the body.