Carotenoids act as a type of antioxidant for human beings. There are more than 600 different types of carotenoids. Some can be converted into Vitamin A when released into the body. A few of the most common carotenoids include alpha carotene, beta carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene. Carotenoids must be consumed through the diet. They are best absorbed through a source of fat.
"Madam I work hard every day at home, I get up early and I try to eat whatever I can but still I have so many health issues, is there any way to solve these issues?,"-well this is a common question that my patients ask me. Women tend to live longer than men but, paradoxically women tend to have more health issues as they age. Scientists have speculated that this might be because of hormonal factors or genetic differences between women and men. However, new research suggests that it may be related to dietary factors too.
Many of the conditions that affect women as they get older, like osteoporosis, dementia, cataract and macular degeneration have been linked to a dietary shortfall. Women in general lack a type of phytonutrient called carotenoid. Carotenoids are essentially the pigments that give foods like sweet potatoes, bell peppers and tomatoes their bright colours. Therefore these diseases could be prevented through awareness and by making the right choices in terms of food. Women have a greater need for carotenoids, so they could be at higher risk for diseases caused by a deficiency.
Carotenoids are pigments in plants, algae and photosynthetic bacteria. These pigments produce the bright yellow, red, and orange colours in plants, vegetables and fruits. Carotenoids act as a type of antioxidant for human beings. There are more than 600 different types of carotenoids. Some can be converted into Vitamin A when released into the body. A few of the most common carotenoids include alpha carotene, beta carotene, beta cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene.
Carotenoids must be consumed through the diet. They are best absorbed through a source of fat. Foods rich in carotenoids include jams, kale, spinach, watermelon, bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, mangoes and oranges
Carotenoids are fat-soluble compounds, meaning they are best absorbed with fat. Unlike some protein-rich foods and vegetables, cooking and chopping carotenoid-rich foods increase the strength of the nutrients when they enter the bloodstream.
Carotenoids are classified into two main groups, xanthophylls and carotenes.
Both types of carotenoids have antioxidant properties. In addition, some carotenoids can be converted into Vitamin A, an essential component for human health and growth. These provitamin A carotenoids include alpha carotene, beta carotene and beta cryptoxanthin. Non-provitamin A carotenoids include lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene.
Xanthophylls contain oxygen and sometimes have more of a yellow pigment. Xanthophyll carotenoids protect you from too much sunlight. They are most associated with eye health. Lutein and zeaxanthin fall under the xanthophyll category. Foods that fall under the xanthophyll category include kale, spinach, summer squash, pumpkin, avocado, yellow-fleshed fruits, corn and egg yolks.
Carotenes do not contain oxygen and are associated with more of an orange pigment. Carotene carotenoids play a significant role in helping plants grow. Beta carotene and lycopene fall under this category of carotenoids. Foods in this category include carrots, sweet potatoes, papaya, pumpkin, tangerines, tomatoes and winter squash.
Carotenoids are beneficial antioxidants that can protect from diseases and enhance the immune system. Provitamin A carotenoids can be converted into vitamin A, which is essential for growth, immune system function and eye health. Eating foods rich in beta carotene during menstruation is good because beta carotene converts into Vitamin A which helps to minimize the blood flow and control heavy bleeding. It can also help to regularize irregular periods; it also helps the cramps to become less severe. Eating carotenoid-rich foods can protect the healthy cells in the eye and prevent the growth of cancerous cells. One of the leading causes of blindness is macular degeneration, or the degeneration of the center of the retina. Long-term blue light exposure can cause this and negatively affect the delicate parts of the eye. However, the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin found in the retina can help to absorb blue light. Carotenoids are antioxidants, lowering inflammation in the body. Though it is still being researched, carotenoid anti-inflammatory properties have been associated with improving cardiovascular health. Reducing inflammation helps to protect against heart disease and prevents arterial walls from being blocked. Antioxidants protect cells from free radicals, or substances that destroy or damage cell membranes. Increasing carotenoids via your diet can increase the amount of antioxidants and protective cells in your body. This is significant when battling cancer and may help to prevent cancer growth.
By Dr Rajashree Sharma
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