Tag Archives: Carotenoids

What are Carotenoids?

The food you eat does so much more than taste good. One of the most amazing ingredients you can add to your diet are carotenoids. These antioxidant promote eye and skin health as well as providing protection from certain cancers. Our comprehensive guide tells you just what carotenoids are, what they do for you and how you can add some to your diet.

Carrots on a wooden table

What are Carotenoids?
Carotenoids are plant pigments that your body converts into vitamin A. These plant pigments are responsible for the bright red, orange or yellow hue found in fruits and vegetables and are a class of plant pigments known as phytonutrients. Brightly colored red, orange and yellow are not the only fruits and vegetables that contain carotenoids. In fact, kale is one of the greatest sources of dietary vitamin A but the chlorophyll in the plant masks the signature red, orange or yellow color of the vegetable. Generally speaking for both bright vegetables and dark, leafy greens, the deeper in color the fruit or vegetable is, the higher the concentration of carotenoids is.

Carotenoids include:

  • Alpha-carotene
  • Beta-carotene
  • Gamma-carotene
  • Cyptoxanthin
  • Beta-zeacarotene
  • Lycopene
  • Zeaxanthin
  • Lutein
  • Capsanthin
  • Canthaxanith

Of these carotenoids, the highest concentration of vitamin A is beta-carotene but the others are just as important. Even those carotenoids that are not converted into vitamin A in the body like lycopene, lutein and capsanthin, are beneficial to your health in that they have incredible cancer-fighting powers. There is ample research to suggest that lycopene, while not a source of vitamin A, helps to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

What do Carotenoids do?
While some carotenoids are effective at fighting cancer, they are also a valuable preventive tool. Research regarding beta-carotene, the carotenoid with the greatest amount of vitamin A, shows that those who eat foods rich in beta-carotene have a lower risk of developing lung cancer, even among smokers. The study also indicated that the maximum benefits were seen when beta-carotene was provided in the form of plants and vegetables as opposed to taking a vitamin A supplement. In fact three research studies that involved 169,000 participants, of whom many were smokers, the beta-carotene supplement actually increased rates of lung cancer. However, lutein, lycopene and alpha-carotene showed significant protection against lung cancer.

Experts believe that the variation in carotenoid protection is dependent upon when you take carotenoids. For instance, if you take beta-carotene prior to cells undergoing any pre-cancerous changes, beta-carotene reduces the likelihood that mutations will take place due to the antioxidant actions this carotenoid provides. Conversely, taking a beta-carotene supplement after the mutation of cells suggests that beta-carotene may protect the mutated cells from being destroyed by your body.

In addition to fighting cancer, carotenoids that are converted into vitamin A provide your body with important health benefits. One of the most important uses for vitamin A is eye health. The old maxim that carrots are good for your eyes really is rooted in fact. Vitamin A is essential for eye health and preventing vision loss. Your heart also received health benefits from carotenoids, particularly when combined with vitamins E and C. The carotenoid beta-carotene has also been shown to protect the skin against environmental damage and toxins due to its antioxidant properties.

How do you get Carotenoids?
Now that you know why it is so important to get carotenoids into your body, you probably want to know how you can do that. Some of the very best dietary sources of carotenoids include:

  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Beef liver
  • Cantaloupe
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggs

Eating a diet rich in carotenoids is an excellent thing to do for your overall health and you can easily incorporate these foods into your diet. While experts recommend dietary carotenoid as the most beneficial for your body, there are certainly dietary supplements available if you are concerned you aren’t receiving enough from your food. Stock up on these fruits and veggies to keep your eyes, heart and cells healthy in addition to getting the healthiest skin of your life.

Using Pumpkin for Beautiful Skin

It is officially fall and the arrival of all things pumpkin is upon us. Seasonal favorites, like the ubiquitous pumpkin spice latte, are back in full force and the uses of for pumpkin seem endless. From carving a Halloween pumpkin to baking that amazing pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, there is a pumpkin product that suits your taste. If you still aren’t sold on how awesome pumpkin is, this post may change your mind. While the vast majority of pumpkin popularity revolves around the cozy pumpkin spice flavor or their appearances at Halloween, there are other reasons to get excited about this orange-hued multi-tasker. Pumpkin is actually super beneficial for your skin, and the benefits of pumpkin added to your skin care can be enjoyed all year long, rather than for a few brief months each year.

Woman holding a pumpkin during fall.

Why is Pumpkin Good for Skin?
Simply put, pumpkin is great for your skin because it is packed with essential vitamins and minerals that your skin needs.

Carotenoids – Carotenoids are responsible for the vivid orange hue pumpkins possess. Alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, in addition with other carotenoids not only make pumpkins aesthetically pleasing, they also provide excellent protective antioxidants that improve your skin. Carotenoids are absorbed very well by the skin and the the antioxidants found in carotenoids help reverse UV damage and smooth the texture of the skin.

Vitamin C – This antioxidant is vital to your skin and has a multitude of benefits. Vitamin C helps protect against free radical damage, reduces inflammation and irritation, boosts healthy collagen production and fades dark spots from aging, sun damage and even post-acne marks. The added collagen boost means less fine lines and wrinkles on your face while the protection against free radicals helps to prevent more signs of aging from forming.

B Vitamins – Pumpkin is an excellent source of several B vitamins including B6, niacin, riboflavin and folate. Studies have shown that niacinamide helps control the popular rosacea issues, flushing and blushing. It may also help lighten dark spots on the face. Niacinamide is also used in the treatment of acne. Folate is a great skin care ingredient because it improves circulation which helps speed up cell turnover and cell renewal.

Minerals – The minerals found in pumpkin are many, but some of the most important include copper, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and manganese. Zinc is a skincare superstar; it protects cell membranes, fights acne, promotes skin renewal and maintains collagen levels. Copper, zinc and potassium not only benefit your skin, but also your hair.

There are already a number of beauty products contains including scrubs, toners and masks. However, using fresh pumpkin to DIY skincare is super easy. You can use fresh or canned pumpkin to create an easy face mask. Grab ¼ cup of pumpkin and whisk together with one egg. If you have oily skin, consider adding some apple cider vinegar, and for dry skin add a bit of honey. Slather all over your face and leave for 15-20 minutes then rinse. No more wasted pumpkin after serious carving sessions, you can save it and use it to improve your skin.