2. Carotenoids and the Cardiovascular system
The beneficial effects of fruits and vegetables are mediated through a number of mechanismsthat include metabolism, immune modulation and hormonal induction.
Carotenoids are the pigments responsible for a variety of shades including the orange and yellow colours found insome fruit and vegetables. The carotenoids in the human diet are primarily derived from plants. There are more than 600 carotenoid compounds and approximately 50 of these areconsumed in the human diet.
However, only 12 different compounds are found in measurableconcentrations in human blood. The most abundant carotenoids in the European diet are β-carotene, α-carotene, γ-carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and its derivatives β-crpytoxanthin and astaxanthin.
Carotenoids can also be found in animals to a lesser extent asthey are fed plant and algal products containing carotenoids. The plasma concentrations of carotenoids are considered good biomarkers of total dietary intake of fruit and vegetables.
Asyou can see from figure 2, carotenoids are essential in the human diet as we, unlike plants, donot possess the relevant metabolic equipment necessary to process geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate to phytoene.
Figure 2: The significance of Carotenoids to the human diet. Adapted fro
In Humans:In Plants: