So you’ve been hearing about Carotenoids but what exactly are they? What Are Carotenoids? Carotenoids are actually responsible for the vibrant colours of plants. For the human body Carotenoids are potent antioxidants which aid in the prevention of some types of cancer. They can also prevent heart disease and give the immune system a healthy boost. Carotenoids are known precursors to another essential nutrient which is Vitamin A. The Carotenoid Beta Carotene Some Carotenoids in fact are converted to Vitamin A in the body. This is the reason why they are often referred to as provitamin A. Beta-carotene is the carotenoid that provides the body with the most amount of Vitamin A compared to alpha-carotene and gamma-carotene. So munch on those carrot sticks or drink up carrot juice as carrots are loaded with beta carotene! The Carotenoid Lycopene Lycopene is another form of carotenoid. However lycopene does not turn into Vitamin A. Both tomatoes and watermelon are loaded with this orange-red pigment. Although lycopene can not be converted to Vitamin A, one should not dismiss this carotenoid. The truth is lycopene is an even more powerful antioxidant than beta-carotene. The truth of the matter is all carotenoids should not be dismissed or even undervalued as all of them are antioxidants. Antioxidants are essential to the body as they have the ability to reduce the damaging activity of the free radical singlet oxygen. Carotenoids Vs Free Radicals In nature oxygen atoms like to be in duo. Oxygen atoms pair up but in the case of singlet oxygen atoms, as the name suggests, they don’t have a pair and therefore are unstable. Singlet oxygen atoms damage and cause the lipids in cell walls to become inflamed. Cell inflammation and cell damage are usually caused by these free radicals. To put things simpler, these free radicals are responsible for early skin aging and the development of fine lines, wrinkles and age spots on the skin. Carotenoid-Packed Foods Fruits and vegetables especially those sporting an orange or yellow colour are packed with Vitamin A thanks to the high amount of carotenoids in them. The simple rule of thumb in getting to know if fruits or vegetables have a high content of carotenoids is that the deeper the colour the higher concentration of carotenoids. We’ve already mentioned that carrots are packed with beta-carotene and of course the vegetable of the season, the pumpkin, is also loaded with Carotenoids! Even Your Leafy Greens? Your leafy greens like spinach, broccoli and asparagus are also loaded with Carotenoids! But they’re not even orange or yellow! Sure they are loaded with carotenoids! It’s just that the green pigment which we know as chlorophyll give them this intense green colour! Carotenoids have numerous healthy benefits including cancer and heart disease prevention. They also benefit the skin! If you want a healthy body plus a youthful and healthy skin, start eating foods packed with carotenoids! Now that you’ve learned about the healthy and beauty benefits of Carotenoids, pass the knowledge around!