While consumption of fruits and vegetables has long been associated with lower risks of health problems such as cancer and heart disease,
It is still unclear which elements contribute to the health effects and how they do so.
For this study researchers focused on alpha-carotene, a pigment similar to beta-carotene found in orange and dark green vegetables. Scientists believe carotenoid antioxidants; such as alpha-carotene promote health by counteracting oxygen-related damage to DNA.
To investigate, researchers studied the relationship between alpha-carotene blood levels and the risk of dying among 15,318 adults aged 20 and older for 14 years.
Researchers found that the more alpha-carotene participants had in their blood at the start of the study, the lower their risks of disease and death.
Higher alpha-carotene blood levels were associated with a lower risk of dying from cancer, cardiovascular disease and all other causes. The protective effect of alpha-carotene on the risk of death was particularly strong for cancers of the upper digestive tract (esophagus, larynx, pharynx), type 2 diabetes and chronic lower respiratory disease.
Compared with people with lower alpha-carotene blood levels, those with the highest had a 39-per-cent lower risk of dying over the 14-year period.
The findings held after accounting for risk factors such as age and smoking.
The findings were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
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All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.