Carotenoids are organic pigments mainly with yellow, orange or red color and with powerful antioxidant action . They are contained in high doses in a number of plant foods, but the human body cannot synthesize them. This requires them to come from outside, and the most convenient way is through regular consumption of foods rich in carotenoids .

 

Several hundred naturally occurring carotenoids have been described in nature, and 5 of them are the best studied in terms of their beneficial effects:


  • Carotenoids from the group of provitamin A - this includes pigments - alpha carotene and beta carotene . Once in the body, they are transformed into the active form of vitamin A (retinol). Alpha and beta carotene are the main raw materials from which the body can produce sufficient amounts of this important vitamin;
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin - these carotenoids are referred to as eye pigments because they accumulate in the retina and ensure good color vision, as well as protection of the retina from ultraviolet rays; 
  • Lycopene - this is the most widely studied carotenoid in recent years, which is believed to help regulate cholesterol and prevent excessive hardening of the arteries;

 

The five most popular carotenoids are found in the largest amounts in colorful fruits and vegetables.

 

Carrots
Carrots are among the few foods that contain all five of these carotenoids. Alpha and beta carotene are present in the highest concentration, which is why carrots are an ideal raw material for obtaining a sufficient amount of vitamin A.

 

Pumpkin
With the exception of lycopene, all other major carotenoids are present in high doses in the composition of the pumpkin, even higher than their amounts in carrots.

 

Green leafy vegetables
If they did not contain so much chlorophyll, which gives them their characteristic green color, leafy vegetables would be bright yellow or orange because they also contain very large amounts of carotenoid pigments. Predominant among them are lutein, zeaxanthin and beta carotene.

 

Tomatoes The
characteristic red color of tomatoes and tomato products is due to their high content of the red pigment lycopene. Tomatoes are the most affordable and complete natural source of this important pigment. A very valuable feature is its ability to remain in active form after light heat treatment of tomatoes.

 

Regular supply of sufficient amounts of carotenoids is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular and other types of chronic diseases, including some forms of cancer. According to nutritionists and experts in healthy eating with carotenoids can not be overdone and there is no exact dosage. It is believed that the more colorful vegetables and fruits are consumed, the more obvious will be their benefits.