Do you ever wonder what gives certain foods their eye-catching color?
Carotenoids are the pigments that give fruits and vegetables their array of vivid tones. Carotenoid-rich foods are used aesthetically in cooking as much as they are used for their health benefits.
Their yellow, orange and red hues brighten up any dish and are indicative of their health-promoting properties.
What foods contain carotenoids?
The best sources can be found in:
- sweet potatoes
- pink grapefruit
Don’t be fooled by their color. Dark green leafy vegetables also provide carotenoids. Their high levels of chlorophyll disguise their carotenoid content.
- collard greens
- swiss chard
- mustard greens
- deep green lettuces
The carotenoids in greens are attributed with discouraging the growth of cancerous cells in the:
Carotenoids are associated with disease prevention in other ways too. For example, they:
- lower cholesterol/reduce the risk of heart disease
- improve eye health
Carotenoids lower cholesterol by preventing LDL (the bad cholesterol) from sticking to arteries. This reduces the risk of heart disease. The four carotenoids linked to a lower risk of heart disease are:
The consumption of spinach, collard greens and other dark leafy greens on a regular basis decreases the risk of macular degeneration by over 40%.
Macular degeneration usually strikes senior citizens, resulting in an irreversible loss of vision.
Sources of carotenoids?
Will supplements help increase carotenoid levels in the body?
Results seen from supplements are not the same as from foods. Drinkers and smokers taking large doses of beta-carotene experience no added benefits and may actually see increases in the risk of lung cancer and/or heart disease.
Carotenoids are fat-soluble, meaning dietary fat facilitates their absorption. To reap their benefits, add a small amount of fat in the form of a dressing or dip.