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Beta-Carotene Vs Carotene

Beta-Carotene Vs Carotene

Disclaimer: This content has been produced purely for informational and educational purposes only and is never intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical guidelines including diagnosis, advice, and treatment.

If we compare beta-carotene vs carotene, we find that beta-carotene is the most common form of carotenes, while carotene refers to the type of carotenoids that do not contain any oxygen molecules. 

Beta-carotene and carotene are types of red, yellow, and orange pigments that are only found in plant food sources such as colorful vegetables, fruits, and dark leafy greens. They are ingredients involved in the pigment systems and play a key role in the absorption of light, especially blue, violet, and ultraviolet range, enabling them capable of emitting red or orange color. 

In this article, we’ll compare beta-carotene vs carotene in a more scientific manner. But before we get into the difference between beta-carotene and carotene, it’s important to learn the basics of carotenoids first. So, let’s get started.   


Table of contents 

  • Understanding carotenoids and their types  
  • What is carotene? 
  • What is beta-carotene? 
  • Beta-carotene vs carotene
  • Final words 

Understanding carotenoids and their types 

Carotenoids are a class of organic pigment compounds known as tetraterpenoids commonly found in photosynthetic organisms such as plants, bacteria, and algae. In structure, they are a class of hydrocarbons. They give vibrant natural yellow, red, and orange colors to various colorful fruits and vegetables. Typically, they act as accessory pigments in the process of photosynthesis. 

However, animals, including humans, cannot produce carotenoids in the body on their own. But these compounds play critical roles in many different bodily functions. Humans must need to consume them either through foods or as dietary supplements. This is the reason why carotenoids are often considered essential micronutrients. 

Carotenoids have been shown to have tremendous antioxidant properties that can hugely help neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are harmful molecules that hold onto unpaired oxygen, making them extremely unstable which can cause detrimental large chain reactions and cause rec havoc to cells, tissues, and even organs. 

Besides, carotenoids possess significant anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulating properties that can help lower the risk of developing heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) diseases. Finally, some carotenoids act as provitamin A and get converted into vitamin A when entered the body. 

Carotenoids can be divided into two major categories, such as - 

  • Xanthophylls - carotenoids that are an oxygenated group of hydrocarbons. 
  • Carotenes - carotenoids that are a non-oxygenated group of hydrocarbons. 

Xanthophylls and carotenes absorb light in various wavelengths and emit different colors. Xanthophylls typically provide a yellow color, while carotenes provide an orange or red color. 

Lutein and zeaxanthin are the two main varieties of xanthophylls responsible for the yellow color of saffron and yellow-fleshed fruits. Other good sources include kale, pumpkin, turnip greens, spinach, avocado, paprika, summer squash, and egg yolk. 

A high concentration of zeaxanthin and lutein are also found in the human macula, the yellow spot in the retina of an eye, and are believed to protect the eyes from free radical damage, especially those induced by high-energy light.  

Now, let’s have a look at carotenes. 

What is carotene? 

Carotene is an orange or red pigment found in vegetables, fruits, fungi, and dry foliage. Unlike its oxygenated counterpart xanthophyll, it’s typically an unsaturated hydrocarbon that doesn’t hold any oxygen molecules in its structure. It absorbs light in the blue, violet, and ultraviolet range, making it able to produce a red or orange color in its source. 

Carotene contributes to the orange color found in carrots and other fruits, vegetables, and fungi. Although in lower concentration, it’s also responsible for the yellow color found in milk fat and butter as well.

Some major types of carotenes are alpha-carotene, lycopene, and of course beta-carotene. Alpha-carotene is largely found in tangerines, collards, peas, winter squash, and pumpkins. Alpha-carotene has been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Lycopene is the red pigment that gives a vibrant red color to red fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit, and guavas. Lycopene has been found to have tremendous antioxidant properties that can help improve heart health, prevent sun damage, and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer such as lung cancer. 

Let’s take a look at beta-carotene a little bit deeper.    

What is beta-carotene? 

Beta-carotene is the most common type of carotene. It provides the natural color of carrots, which is why it gets its name from the Latin name of carrots. In addition to carrots, other good sources of beta-carotene include papaya, mangoes, cantaloupe, pumpkin, kale, spinach, and sweet potatoes. Beta-carotene is a provitamin A and has many potential health benefits ranging from eye health to skin health to immune function.   

Beta-carotene vs carotene

Beta-carotene is the most prevalent type of carotene, while carotenes are a class of organic pigments that comprises beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lycopene, and others. Carotenes, including beta-carotene, have been found to have many potential health benefits. 

Beta-carotene and a few other carotenes act as a precursor of vitamin A, which is why it’s considered provitamin A and the human body converts them into a preformed vitamin A called retinol when consumed. Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for vision. It also plays an important role in cell growth and helps keep vital organs such as the heart and lungs healthy.  

Beta-carotene and other carotenes also serve as potent antioxidants which can neutralize free radicals and thereby, have powerful cancer-fighting activities. They are also hugely beneficial for the skin and eyes, especially when it comes to protecting against age-related damage.  

Final words 

In the comparison of beta-carotene vs carotene, beta-carotene is a pigment that belongs to the large group of carotenes along with other pigments such as alpha-carotene and lycopene. Beta-carotene is the most common type among the other carotenes. Beta-carotene and other carotenes have strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immuno-modulating effects and thus, have various health benefits. They also act as precursors of vitamin A and are called provitamin A. 

Carotenes, including beta-carotene, are highly useful for eye health, skin protection, immune response, cognitive function, and even cancer prevention. Consider working with a professional nutritionist or healthcare provider before using beta-carotene or any carotene supplements to determine the safety profile and best doses.

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