Carotenoids are a group of more than 700 fat-soluble nutrients that produce the deep green, yellow, orange, and red colours in fruits and vegetables. Many are proving to be very important for health. As with some, but not all, carotenoids, beta-carotene is known as a pro-vitamin A because it converts to the vitamin in the body. Carotenoids are categorised as either xanthophylls or carotenes according to their chemical composition. It is also responsible for inhibiting the growth of many pre-cancerous tumours.
Carotenoids act as antioxidants meaning they tackle harmful free radicals that damage tissues throughout the body. The types of carotenoids that have other health benefits include
beta-carotene, and cryptoxanthin. The body can convert all of these to vitamin A. This vitamin helps keep the immune system working properly and it is needed for eye health. Yellow and orange foods like pumpkins and carrots are good sources of alpha and beta-carotene. These also contain beta-cryptoxanthin, as do sweet red peppers.
NOTE: Excess consumption of carotenoids can cause a yellow/orange colour to the skin.