Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of health-promoting nutrients called carotenoids. However, benefits to human health depend on how well these nutrients are absorbed by the body after digestion. A new study has shown that fruit carotenoids are better absorbed than those from green vegetables. This means that fruit carotenoids may be a better choice as ingredients for functional food and beverage products.
A study by Irish researchers used an experimental model of the digestive process to test the bioaccessibility of carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, lycopene, zeaxanthin and lycopene. Bioaccessibility was defined as the amount of carotenoids available for absorption after digestion.
The results showed that 50 to 100% of carotenoids in fruit were bioaccessible but that the corresponding figure for green vegetables was only 19 to 38%. The reduced bioaccessibility seen in green vegetables may be due to the higher fibre content, which is known to trap nutrients.
For more information, see
O'Connell OF et al (2007). Xanthophyll carotenoids are more bioaccessible from fruits than dark green vegetables. Nutrition Research. Vol 27, issue 5, pg 258-264
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Nutrition-Vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients
Health & lifestyle-Healthy eating