Dietary Sources

Carotenoids cannot be synthesized by humans; therefore they must be obtained from dietary sources. These are primarily highly pigmented red, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables. The caro-tenoid lycopene is red; however, not all red fruits and vegetables contain lycopene. For example, the red in strawberries, apples, and cherries is a result of their anthocyanin content; whereas, tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruit derive their red color from lycopene. The carotenoids ¡-carotene, ¡-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and viola-xanthin are yellow to orange, and phytoene and phytofluene are colorless. Green, leafy vegetables also contain carotenoids, whose colors are masked by the green color of chlorophyll. Table 1 lists carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables. Smaller amounts are also available from animal sources

Table 1 Carotenoid content (mgperg fresh weight) of fresh fruit and vegetables

Carotenoid Concentration Source

(ßgperg fresh weight)

Lycopene 380-3054

179-483

27-200 23-72 53

19-40 8-33

3-Carotene 101-770

26-64 22-58

3-70

42 40

14-34 33

Lutein 64-150

6-129 108 39-95 33-51

Zeaxanthin 16-85

Gac (Momordica cochinchinensis, Spreng) aril Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellate) Tomato Watermelon Guava Papaya

Grapefruit, pink Gac aril Carrot, orange Cantaloupe Kale

Sweet potato Spinach Turnip greens Apricot

Gac mesocarp Tomato

Squash, butternut

Swiss chard

Mango

Collards

Grapefruit, pink

Orange (*blood)

Kale

Mango

Parsley

Spinach

Collards

Broccoli

Chinese cabbage Watercress Pepper, orange Squash, butternut Tomato

Pepper, orange Gou Qi Zi (Lycium barabarum) Gac aril Pepper, red Watercress Spinach Parsley

Japanese persimmon Kale

Squash, butternut

Broccoli

Tomato

Table 1 Continued

Carotenoid

Concentration (^.gperg fresh weight)

Source

Lutein +

71-3956

Kale

zeaxanthin

119

Spinach

84

Turnip greens

26

Lettuce

24

Broccoli

21

Squash, zucchini

16

Brussel sprouts

8

Japanese persimmon

7

Watercress

6

Beans, green snap

5

Tangerine

ß-Cryptoxanthin

22

Pepper, sweet red

14

Japanese persimmon

11

Starfruit

0.7-9

Pepper, chili

2-8

Pepper, orange

0.5-5

Tangerine

4

Cilantro

1.4

Papaya

1

Watermelon

a-Carotene

20-206

Carrot

8

Squash, butternut

2

Collards

1

Tomato

0.7-0.9

Beans, green snap

0.5

Swiss chard

such as ocean fish and dairy products. The pink color of salmon, for example, is derived from the xanthophylls, astaxanthin and canthaxanthin, which they obtain from eating small crustaceans and krill. Lutein imparts its yellow-orange color to eggs, and milk, butter, and cheese contain retinols and ft-carotene. Carotenoids, such as lutein from marigolds and bixin (red color) from annatto, are also used widely as colorants in processed foods to make them more attractive.

Concentrations of carotenoids in fruit and vegetable sources vary, resulting from differences in conditions under which they are grown (temperature, amount of sunlight, degrees of stress from extremes in climate such as drought, heat, and cold), genotype, and maturity or ripeness. The car-otenoid content in animal sources depends upon amounts contained in animal feeds and seasons of the year, which affect the availability of carotenoid-containing plants eaten by grazing animals.

Human diets and tissues contain six carotenoids in significant amounts (listed in Table 1). Lycopene is typically the carotenoid consumed in greatest amounts in Western diets. Per capita intakes in Europe and North America average from 1.6 to more than 18 mg lycopene per day. More than 85% of the lycopene in North American diets comes from tomato products, which also contain significant amounts of other carotenoids (a- and ft-carotene and lutein/zeaxanthin), as well as vitamins C, A, and E, and potassium and folic acid. (Flavonoids are also found in tomato skin; thus, cherry tomatoes contain higher concentrations.) In the US, the annual per capita consumption of tomatoes by 1999 averaged about 17.6 pounds of fresh and 72.8 pounds of processed tomatoes.

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