What are Carotenoids?
Carotenoids are the pigmentation of fruit and vegetables in a natural liquid state. Try smashing a strawberry up on a white chopping board and you will see some red stains. THAT is the carotenoid of the strawberry.
Carotenoids have been researched and found to be extremely powerful at helping our body keep great health. Allow me to share:
Plants are exposed to excess ultraviolet radiation (the sun), predator pests (bugs, worms and insects) and pollution (airborne), resulting in the development of dangerous free radicals within the plant cells, which causes damage to the plant proteins, cell membranes and DNA of the plant. Plants produce carotenoids (pigmentation) which not only give them their colours but act as a powerful defence to protect the plants from their damaging environment. Carotenoids help plants fight disease. These substances are known as phytochemicals (or phytonutrients).
Humans are also exposed to radiations, pollution and environmental contamination. However, we do not produce phytonutrients. Thus, it is necessary for us to obtain our phytonutrients from the fruit and vegetables of the rainbow.
Carotenoids are the pigmentations that give plants their bright yellow, orange, blue or red colouring. There are more than 600 different carotenoids in existence, but the most well-known ones include Lycopene, Alpha-carotene, Beta-carotene, Lutein and Zeaxanthin. Carotenoids are fat-soluble meaning they need to be consumed with sources of fat (eg. DHA) in order for the body to absorb them best.
Types of Carotenoids
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
These carotenoids are the only two that are found in our eyes and brains, which is why they are accredited with protecting and improving our eye and brain health.
As lutein and zeaxanthin are yellow, they can effectively absorb the blue light portion of the visible light. Blue light is the high-energy light that can damage our natural eye lenses and the retina of our eyes. When they are present in our eyes, they act like internal sunglasses, absorbing the blue light and reducing oxidative stress. Studies have shown that people who consume high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin tend to experience less age-related eye problems, including Aged Macular Degeneration, cataract and glaucoma.
Source of Lutein and Zeaxanthin
The best sources of these carotenoids are dark leafy green vegetables and other green or yellow vegetables such as spinach, kale, turnip greens, green peas, mustard greens, etc. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), cooked kale spinach contain the most lutein and zeaxanthin compared to other vegetables. So do include them into your weekly diet!
Lycopene is the red-coloured pigmentation found in tomatoes, watermelons, papaya, carrots, red bell peppers and grapefruit. Compared to eating them raw, lycopene is more easily absorbed when cooked. Given its oil-soluble nature, cooking lycopene-containing foods with some oil can enhance the absorption of lycopene by the body.
The benefits of Lycopene are as follow:-
- Powerful antioxidant
- A study published in Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics (a Science Journal) found that, of all the carotenoids, lycopene was most effective at deactivating reactive oxygen (a harmful free radical)
- Reduces prostate cancer
- A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI), show that men with the highest levels of lycopene were 21% less likely to develop prostate cancer than those with lower lycopene levels
- Promotes bone health, great for Osteoporosis patients
- A study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research (JBMR) showed that participants with higher levels of lycopene were less likely to experience hip or nonvertebral fracture
Alpha & Beta Carotene
These are provitamin A carotenoids where they can be turned into vitamin A (retinol) according to the needs of our body. Dr. Ray D. Strand, M.D., author of ‘What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You’ does not recommend the use of straight vitamin A because of its potential toxicity. He suggests supplements with carotenoids such as Alpha-carotene and Beta-carotene that would provide the vitamin A our body needs with no toxicity issues as the carotenoids will convert into Vitamin A by only what the body requires at any one time.
Alpha and Beta-carotene gives orange foods their colour. They are found in cantaloupe, mangoes, papaya, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale and pumpkin. Good sources of Alpha and Beta-carotene include pumpkin, carrots, tomatoes, collards, tangerines, winter squash and peas.
Benefits of Alpha-carotene and Beta-carotene:-
- Being an important flavonoid compound, Alpha and Beta-carotene have powerful antioxidant functions that help the body scavenge free radicals and limits damage to cell membranes, DNA and protein structures in the tissues.
- According to WebMD, Alpha and Beta-carotene are used to decrease asthma symptoms caused by exercise; to prevent certain cancers, heart disease, cataracts, and age related macular degeneration(AMD); they also assist in the treatment of AIDS, alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, epilepsy, headache, heartburn, high blood pressure, infertility, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, and skin disorders including psoriasis and vitiligo
- Studies have shown that Beta-carotene promotes heart health. For instance, a Japanese study published in the Journal of Epidemiology (study of diseases) found that participants with the highest blood levels of Beta-carotene were less likely to die from heart disease
- The synergistic effect of Alpha-carotene with lycopene is found to be associated with reduced risk of lung cancer in a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Crocetin is a pigment extracted from the gardenia fruit or the saffron stigma. Every 750 kg of gardenia flowers and fruit yields just 1kg of precious natural crocetin. Crocetin has amphipathic properties and dissolves in both water and oil which makes it a unique and powerful carotenoid.
Benefits of Crocetin:-
One of its important properties is due to its small molecule size which allows it to be absorbed quickly and efficiently by the body. Crocetin promotes blood circulation and blood detoxification. It also exerts anti-inflammatory properties which helps relieve pain. A study published in the Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology (Journal of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology) found that crocetin in saffron, has shown to be an anti-tumour agent in animal models, whereby it hinders growth factors of cancerous cells and induces cell death.
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Who is Mamapumpkin?
Mamapumpkin spent 7 years in London committing crimes to gain her Bartlett BSc in Architecture. She spent 7 years as a Stay At Home Mom raising her children as documented in this Mamapumpkin blog since over 10 years ago and thereafter returned to the Corporate World stronger than ever. Her last job as Country Director of a British Railway Signalling organisation saw her getting ill with an aortal and mitral heart valve regurgitation and cancer. Through her journey from working to not working to working again, she sets out to prove to all women that they can do anything and everything that they set out to do; as long as they have that fire of desire burning within and the drive to work hard with oodles of love, passion and integrity.
Despite being ill, she has grown a network marketing business from little knowledge and experience in the otherwise infamously known MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) industry, racing from an income of ZERO to RM 100,000 monthly in merely 2 years. She is a firm believer of the MLM business model but realises the pitfalls too and understands how and why the majority of people would shy away from any MLM business.
She is now pondering the title of her new book, From Zero to 100,000 RM monthly in 2 years and has a sequel in the pipeline with the aim of helping real professionals succeed in the World of MLM. Always the giver, Mamapumpkin has supported orphans for years and has now extended her care to the sick, single mothers, and even struggling families. She believes that with the MLM business model, we can all have a life of our own desires to enable real contribution into the world.
A beautiful life without limits.
Mamapumpkin currently manages the Homeschooling Hub Malaysia on Facebook. She also runs Working Women Malaysia (not THAT kind of Working Women LOL), Mamapumpkin - Creating A Life of Abundance, and Funky Moms on Facebook to offer REAL support to all women who want career and life success. She is a living testimony that women really can have a lot. Being financially free has enabled her to travel the world anytime anywhere doing anything, and she spends most of her day to day with her children, reading and supporting other women.
For enquiries, please contact her at mamapumpkin at gmail dot com or WhatsApp her at +6012-2333840