Enhance Your Wellness with Carotenoids

A recent study published in the journal Antioxidants aimed to review existing research on the potential benefits of carotenoids as dietary supplements and functional health foods. Phytochemicals or phytonutrients are biologically active compounds found in plants that have numerous potential benefits in pharmaceuticals, foods, and cosmetics. These plant compounds might be associated with lowering oxidative stress and treating several diseases.

Carotenoids, a group of phytonutrients that exhibit potential cardiovascular and anticancer properties, are the focus of this study. Carotenoids are brightly colored compounds present in photosynthetic organisms like cyanobacteria, algae, and plants. These compounds absorb specific wavelengths of light and protect plant cells from photodamage and superoxide radicals. They also decrease the reactivity of oxygen species. The major sources of carotenoids include brightly colored vegetables, fruits, egg yolks, butter, cheese, seafood, grains, and yellow fat-accumulating mammals like cows and birds.

More than 600 naturally occurring carotenoids, synthesized by bacteria, fungi, and plants, are known. These compounds are classified as carotenes and xanthophylls based on their composition. Carotenes contain only carbon and hydrogen, while xanthophylls contain other oxygenated functional groups. Major sources of carotenoids include carrots, tomatoes, red peppers, green vegetables, mangoes, peaches, apricots, papaya, and citrus fruits. Lycopene, the most abundant xanthophyll, is present in red-fleshed vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes and watermelon.

Carotenoids, particularly lycopene, have been associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and several types of cancers. Lycopene supplementation is helpful in treating various cardiovascular diseases, decreases cholesterol oxidation, enhances antioxidant properties, decreases oxidative stress, and regulates artherosclerosis. Lycopene has the highest free radical activity among the 600 natural carotenoids, providing protection to DNA from oxidative stress and preventing chronic diseases’ mutations. Several studies demonstrate anti-inflammatory properties of carotenoids and their beneficial effects on lipid and glycemic disorders, tumor cell apoptosis, and p¬¨roliferation.

This review highlights the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of carotenoids, numerous dietary sources of carotenoids, and their use as dietary supplements in treating various diseases and cosmetic treatments. The extensive array of potential benefits associated with carotenoids emanating from this review warrants further exploration into this area.

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