Carotenoids: antioxidants that promote longevity
Carotenoids are yellow, orange, and red pigments present in fruits and vegetables. There are more than 600 carotenoids; the most commonly consumed and well-studied carotenoids include beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Some carotenoids are converted to vitamin A in the body - beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin for example. Adequate provitamin A carotenoid intake is important for proper immune function. Carotenoids play an important role in intercellular communication, give the skin a healthy glow, and have powerful antioxidant activity. Carotenoids help to defend the body’s tissues against oxidative damage, a known contributor to chronic disease and an accepted mechanism of aging. The body’s defenses against oxidative damage consist of naturally produced, as well as diet-derived antioxidant molecules. Countless studies have found associations of carotenoid levels in the blood with reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all causes; low blood carotenoids are a risk factor for earlier death among elderly adults.For the complete article see the 01-02-2013 issue.
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