Surely you have heard about carotenes, especially at this time of year when we tend to expose ourselves more to the sun in search of an attractive tan on our skin. So that we better know these compounds that may be in our dishes, we will tell you what are and what are the functions of carotenes as well as in what foods to find them.
Carotenes and their functions
Under the name of carotenes a series of chemical compounds of the family of terpenes are included that have a pro-vitamin action, since can be converted to vitamin A in the human body.
Beta-carotene is the most abundant within this group and for this reason, it is also often called this way.
It’s a natural pigment of many foods, being widely distributed in green vegetables and vegetables as well as yellow, orange or red fruits and foods.
Benefits of carotenes
Although we always associate carotenes with the color of our skin and that is why we usually remember them when we seek to tan, the reality is that beyond the coloration offered by carotenes they have other functions and offer many benefits to the body:
- They have an antioxidant effect in our body and therefore, as Canadian scientists point out, it can reduce oxidative stress that causes many diseases that start at the cellular level. Likewise, due to this effect, carotenes can be key to counteracting the negative effects of smokers or alcohol users and can also contribute to the recovery after intense physical exercise that generates stress in the body.
- They promote mental and brain health by stimulating brain connections and optimizing cognitive performance as recently published research in the journal Neurolmage has found.
- It could reduce the risk of cancer since a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates a link between carotene deficiency and a higher incidence of lung cancer. Likewise, the evidence is not sufficient in this regard, although carotenes due to their antioxidant effect, they could reduce or slow down degenerative diseases such as cancer.
- Contribute to eye health and vision, especially lutein and zeaxanthin as a research published in the journal Nutrients concludes. This is because these carotenoids absorb harmful sun rays in the eye and thus protect the macula from damage, improve visual acuity, and scavenge free oxygen radicals or harmful oxidative stress.
We already see that beyond your skin protective effect and their help to achieve a brown tone taking care of health, carotenes have a wide functionality in our body.
How much and how to consume more carotenes
Carotenes have mostly, they are converted into vitamin A in our body, therefore, although there is no recommended daily intake Because they are not a nutrient as such, it can be estimated that between 9000 and 12000 micrograms of these compounds are required each day.
Only 50% of what is consumed is absorbed and if we overeat with foods rich in carotene we can suffer carotenemia characterized by a yellowish almost orange hue on our skin.
And beyond the fact that carotenes are highly recommended on a daily basis, it is not advisable to go to supplements that could have a neutral to negative effect on our body as pointed out by a study published in The FASEB Journal.
Then, the best way to obtain carotenes is through foods rich in these compounds as there are several ingredients of vegetable origin, especially those of orange, yellow or dark green color.
For example, good sources of carotenes are carrot, the turn them, the curly cabbage, the spinach and the watercress, red peppers, chard, tomato, lettuce, apricot, medlar, persimmons and also, egg yolk or corn especially rich in lutein and zeaxanthin.
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