The color of fruits and vegetables not only makes them attractive, but also contains nutrients that provide many benefits for the body. Various colors in fruits and vegetables are produced by a content called carotenoids.
Carotenoids have an important role for plants and can be good antioxidants for the body. So, what exactly are carotenoids and what are their benefits for our bodies? Come on, see the explanation below!
1. What are carotenoids?
carotenoids are pigments found in plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria. This pigment produces bright yellow, red, and orange colors in vegetable and fruit plants.
Some can be converted into vitamin A when released into the body. Some of the most common types of carotenoids include:
Carotenoids are best absorbed through fat. Foods rich in carotenoids include:
2. Absorption of carotenoids in the body
carotenoids must be consumed through food. Cooking and cutting foods rich in carotenoids can help the intestinal absorption process. The process of absorption of carotenoids requires the presence of fat in the diet.
At least 3 to 5 grams of fat in the diet is sufficient to ensure the absorption of carotenoids.
In addition to acting as antioxidants, some carotenoids can be converted into vitamin A, an essential component for health and growth. Carotenoids that can be converted into vitamin A include alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin.
3. Xanthophyll and carotene
Carotenoids are divided into two main groups, namely xanthophylls and carotenes. Reported by Healthline , xanthophylls contain oxygen and sometimes have more yellow pigment. This group of carotenoids can protect you from too much sun exposure.
Xanthophylls are most often associated with eye health. Lutein and zeaxanthin are included in the xanthophyll category. Some foods that fall into the xanthophyll category include cabbage, spinach, pumpkin, and corn.
On the other hand, carotene does not contain oxygen and contains more orange pigment. Carotene has an important role in helping plants to grow. Some foods that contain carotenoids include carrots, sweet potatoes, papaya, tomatoes, and pumpkin.
4. Good for eye health
Because several types of carotenoids can be processed into vitamin A, carotenoids have significant benefits for eye health . Eating foods rich in carotenoids can protect healthy cells in the eyes and prevent the growth of cancer cells.
A study published by the American Macular Degeneration Foundation shows that taking at least 6 milligrams of lutein a day can lower the risk of macular degeneration by 43 percent.
Increasing your intake of lutein and zeaxanthin can also help slow or stop eye damage.
5. Can help lower cancer risk
In addition to eye health, carotenoids can also help reduce the risk of cancer , especially lung cancer , because of their antioxidant content. When a person smokes, the person ingests harmful chemicals that destroy healthy cells.
While the results are mixed, a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed a slightly reduced risk of lung cancer when consuming carotenoids.
Moreover, quitting smoking and increasing the intake of carotenoids will help the lungs to heal for cigarette addicts.
Increasing the intake of foods rich in carotenoids can strengthen the immune system and overall health. Although carotenoids are available in the form of vitamin A supplements, consuming them directly from food increases their antioxidant effects. Come on, increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables from now on!