Boost your health with carotenoids


In a recent study published in the journal AntioxidantsResearchers are reviewing existing research on the benefits of carotenoids to understand the potential use of carotenoids as functional health nutrients and foods.

The study: an overview of the potential beneficial effects of carotenoids on consumer health and well-being.  Image credit: LilieGraphie/

Stady: An overview of the potential beneficial effects of carotenoids on consumer health and well-being. Image credit: LilieGraphie/


Plants contain bioactive compounds called phytochemicals or phytonutrients with potential health benefits and uses in medicine, food, and cosmetics. Due to their ability to reduce oxidative stress, the plants have also been used to treat various ailments.

Carotenoids are a group of phytonutrients with potential cardiovascular and anti-cancer benefits. These brightly colored compounds are found in photosynthetic organisms such as plants, cyanobacteria, and algae and bind to chlorophyll to absorb specific wavelengths of light. Moreover, carotenoids protect plant cells from photodamage and superoxide radicals and reduce the reactivity of oxygen species.

Carotenoids are found in brightly colored vegetables, fruits, egg yolks, butter, cheese, and seafood. Aside from selecting and cultivating staple foods known to be carotenoid sources, there is also growing interest in exploring underutilized wild vegetables and fruits to discover new sources of carotenoids.

Carotenoids and their sources

There are over 600 naturally occurring carotenoids, which are primarily synthesized by plants, fungi, and bacteria. They all contain a conjugated double bond system that allows them to absorb light in the wavelength 400-550 nanometers (nm). Based on structure, these compounds are classified as carotenoids, which contain only carbon and hydrogen atoms, as well as xanthophylls, which also contain other oxygenated functional groups.

Carotene, of which β-carotene is the most abundant, is found in mangoes, apricots, grapes, and carrots. Lycopene is a non-cyclic carotenoid that is generally found in red-fleshed vegetables and fruits, such as tomatoes and watermelon. Lutein is the most abundant xanthophyll, while smaller amounts of other xanthophylls, such as zeaxanthin, can also be found in green vegetables and grains.

Carrots, tomatoes, red peppers, green vegetables, mangoes, peaches, apricots, papayas, and citrus fruits are major sources of carotenoids. Beta-carotene is also found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and lettuce.

Lycopene is mainly found in fruits and vegetables with red flesh, such as tomatoes, melons, pink guavas, and papayas, as well as green vegetables, such as asparagus and parsley. Green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, watercress, watercress, parsley, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, and cauliflower, are an important source of lutein, while red and orange bell peppers are a good source of zeaxanthin.

Besides vegetables and fruits, carotenoids are also found in grains, especially corn, dairy products, fish, and mammals that accumulate yellow fat, such as cattle and fowl. Because carotenoids are fat-soluble, the bioavailability of carotenoids also depends on the fat content of the diet. In addition, the presence of other phytochemicals such as fatty acids, phytosterols, tocopherols, and polyphenols also affects the absorption of carotenoids.

role in human health

Lycopene has the highest free radical activity among the 600 natural carotenoids and has been shown to protect deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) from oxidative stress and prevent mutations that can cause chronic disease. Various studies on animal models as well ex vivo And in the laboratory Studies using cultured cells have reported that carotenoids have anti-inflammatory properties and show beneficial effects in lipid and glycemic impairment, as well as in apoptosis and proliferation of cancer cells.

Lycopene has been used as a dietary supplement in the treatment of various cardiovascular diseases and appears to reduce cholesterol oxidation, enhance antioxidant properties, and reduce oxidative stress. Lycopene has also shown protective properties during arterial transplants by modulating the production of proteins involved in atherosclerosis.

Carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, have been associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, while lycopene has been observed to reduce fasting blood glucose levels. Although data regarding the anticancer properties of carotenoids are insufficient, carotene consumption is associated with a lower risk of estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Previous studies have also reported that the anti-inflammatory properties of lycopene have been associated with a reduced risk of various cancers such as lung, breast, prostate, ovarian, and stomach.

The protective properties of carotenoids against ultraviolet radiation have also been investigated for the treatment of various eye and skin conditions, and carotenoids have been used in a wide range of cosmetic products.


This comprehensive review discussed the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of carotenoids, the numerous dietary sources of carotenoids, and the use of various carotenoids, particularly lycopene, as nutritional supplements in the treatment of various diseases. The results highlight the scope of use of carotenoids as nutrients and functional food in the treatment of various diseases and cosmetic therapies.

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Journal reference:

  • Crupi P, Faienza MF, Naeem MY, et al. (2023). An overview of the potential beneficial effects of carotenoids on consumer health and well-being. Antioxidants 12(5). doi: 10.3390/antiox 12051069

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