Carotenoids are plant pigments that give the bright red, orange, and yellow color for many fruits and vegetables. Apart from this, they are one of the main nutrients found in plant-based food and have many health benefits. Other than plants, they are also found in bacteria and algae. Like chlorophyll, carotenoids help plants to absorb sunlight for photosynthesis and thereby create energy. In this article, we will discuss in detail carotenoids, and shared below are details about them.
An Introduction To Carotenoids
Carotenoids are a class of nutrients found mainly in plant-based food, and they have excellent antioxidant properties. Also, according to physicians, they have good cancer-fighting properties. These nutrients are converted to vitamin A, which is essential for growth, development, and vision. You must know that this conversion varies from person to person; this depends on age, gender, and race.
Sources Of Carotenoids
Foods that contain carotenoids are not always red, orange, or yellow. The following foods are the best sources of this nutrient: tomatoes, papaya, carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, cantaloupe, watermelon, spinach, kale, mangoes, oranges, and bell peppers. So, vegetarians and vegans must include these fruits and vegetables in the plant-based meal.
The Different Types Of Carotenoids
There are more than 600 types of carotenoids. The most common ones in our diet are alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene. These are broadly classified into two groups: xanthophylls and carotenes. The main difference between them is that xanthophylls have oxygen, and carotenes are hydrocarbons. Carotenoids are also grouped differently: provitamin A and non-provitamin A. The former is converted into vitamin A. Alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin are provitamin A carotenoids. Lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene are non-provitamin A carotenoids.
Lutein And Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are xanthophylls. They are the only carotenoids found in the retina. Plant-based food like spinach, kale, turnip greens, summer squash, avocado, and yellow-fleshed fruits are good sources of these nutrients.
Beta-cryptoxanthin is both provitamin A and a xanthophyll carotenoid. It only produces half the vitamin A of beta-carotene.
Among the carotenes, beta-carotene is the best source of vitamin A. One of the well-known sources of this nutrient is carrots.
Alpha-carotene only produces half the vitamin A of beta-carotene. It is found in foods that contain beta-carotene.
These are the important points that you must know about carotenoids, and we hope that this article was useful to you.