Foods with adequate amounts of carotenoids may play a significant influence in promoting the health and longevity of women.
Despite having longer life expectancies than males, women age with more health problems. However, new research from the University of Georgia suggests that it may be related to dietary factors.
It has been suggested by scientists that a variety of reasons, such as hormonal and genetic differences between men and women, may be to blame.
A dietary deficiency of a class of phytonutrients called carotenoids has been related to a number of the illnesses that plague women as they age, including osteoporosis, dementia, cataracts, and macular degeneration. The compounds that give foods like tomatoes, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes their vivid colours are called carotenoids. The authors of the study suggest that awareness and choosing different eating choices could help prevent certain disorders.
Billy R. Hammond, Ph.D., a professor in the behavioural and brain sciences programme in the psychology department at the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Georgia, is one of the study’s co-authors. He says that women have a greater need for carotenoids and may therefore be more susceptible to diseases brought on by a deficiency.
“Women are not all that different with respect to their intake,” explained Hammond, “but there are differences in their biology that create higher need…”
For instance, he said that because carotenoids are fat soluble, they are kept in adipose tissue. Women typically have more body fat since it affects their capacity to conceive children. This implies that more carotenoids are diverted from regions with high demands, such as the central nervous system. Having a backup supply of these crucial nutrients throughout pregnancy helps to safeguard the developing foetus. However, the mother may not get enough of these nutrients since the body prefers to provide them to the baby first.
Hammond used macular degeneration as an illustration of a disorder that might be brought on by a deficiency in carotenoids.
A woman may be more susceptible to having this problem if there is less available for the retina, which the body might deem to be of lower priority than a developing kid. Carotenoids appear to be particularly significant elements in the visual and cognitive health, according to the study’s authors, who emphasised this in their report.
The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin have been demonstrated to enhance the function of those regions as well as prevent degeneration since they are extremely selective for certain tissues in the eye and brain. Observing the colour of meals might help you identify those that contain carotenoids.
Dena Champion, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said carotenoids are what make plant foods look orange, yellow, or red. For example, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and butternut squash.
However, it might sometimes not be so obvious that a plant contains carotenoids. “Leafy greens like spinach and collard greens are also a good source, but chlorophyll masks the color,” said Champion.
Phytochemicals in general are good for human health, she said.
“They may play a role in helping to prevent certain types of cancers, they may decrease inflammation, and some act as antioxidants to protect us from free radical damage.”
Champion further explained that zeaxanthin and lutein are two particular types of carotenoids that are important for eye and cognitive health. If you want to get more of these important phytonutrients in your diet, Champion suggests eating foods like spinach, kale, winter squash, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
Champion further adds that none of these foods have to be fresh. Frozen can provide the same health benefits.