If you’re a woman, eating a diet rich in carotenoids could improve your health in many ways. These plant pigments give fruits and vegetables their bright colors and offer a wide range of health benefits. A higher intake of carotenoids may reduce the risk of developing heart disease, cancer and arthritis.
Below, we’ll discuss the science behind carotenoids and women’s health and provide tips for incorporating more carotenoid-rich foods into your diet.
1. Lowering the Risk of Cancer
The development of cancer is impeded by carotenoids, according to studies. For example, one study found that the risk of breast cancer was lower in women who ate a diet high in these antioxidants as opposed to those who did not consume such a diet.
Additionally, another study discovered that carotenoids might also protect against ovarian cancer. Furthermore, additional cancers like colon and skin cancer are less likely to occur with continuous consumption of carotenoid-rich foods.
Some researchers believe that carotenoids may prevent cancer by capturing free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can harm cells and potentially lead to cancerous growth. Carotenoids may also help bolster the immune system, which fights off infection and disease–including cancer.
2. Reduction of the Risk of Heart Disease
The number one cause of death in women is heart disease, and carotenoids may help to prevent it. Women who consumed more of these antioxidants were found to have a decreased risk of developing heart disease.
Carotenoids are thought to aid in preventing heart disease by lowering inflammation. They might also help reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure, further decreasing the chance of developing heart disease.
3. Improved Cognitive Function
Cognitive decline is a common problem in older women, and these antioxidants may help to improve cognitive function. Women that have a higher dietary intake of carotenoids have been found to have a lower risk of developing cognitive decline.
Carotenoids may also help improve cognitive function by reducing inflammation and scavenging free radicals. They may also help protect against brain damage by boosting the immune system.
4. Improving Fertility
Carotenoids may also assist with fertility. According to one research, women who ate a diet high in carotenoids had a better chance of getting pregnant than those who did not eat such a diet.
Some scientists believe that they could protect eggs and sperm from harm. Additionally, they may help to reduce inflammation, which can help to improve fertility.
5. Lower Risk of Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is a common problem in older women, and these antioxidants may help to protect against the development of this condition. This condition includes the deterioration of the macula, which is the part of the eye that helps to provide sharp vision.
Carotenoids may also help protect against the development of macular degeneration by reducing inflammation and fighting free radicals. Furthermore, they can help improve blood circulation to the eyes, lessening the chance of developing this condition.
Tips to Include More Carotenoids in Your Diet
1. Eat Brightly Colored Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables high in carotenoids include carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, leafy greens, squash, cantaloupe, apricots and mangos. Aim to eat a variety of these foods every day.
If you are not used to eating many fruits and vegetables, start adding one or two daily servings. You can gradually increase your intake over time as you become more accustomed to eating them.
Also, make sure to cook your fruits and vegetables healthily. Steaming or roasting them is a good option. Avoid frying, as this can decrease the carotenoid content. When buying canned fruits and vegetables, look for ones labeled “low sodium” or “no salt added.”
2. Use Healthy Oils When Cooking
When cooking with oil, its best to choose a mostly monounsaturated oil such as olive oil or avocado oil for cooking at low temperatures, or saturated oils like coconut or palm oil when cooking at higher temperatures. These oils can help to increase the absorption of carotenoids.
Additionally, try to use less oil when cooking. You can also add carotenoid-rich foods at the end of cooking, such as adding tomatoes to a pasta dish or broccoli to a stir-fry.
All-in-all, a diet rich in carotenoids could improve women’s health in various ways, including the ones discussed above. So, make sure to include plenty of brightly colored fruits and vegetables in your diet. Use healthy cooking oils and other methods to help increase the absorption of carotenoids. Finally, eat various carotenoid-rich foods daily for the best health benefits.