Dietary Carotenoid Intake Is Associated with Lower Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome in Middle-Aged and Elderly Men – Source: Journal of Nutrition, May 2009

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[Note: carotinoids are color/pigment compounds that plants have developed as defenses against disease, insects, sun, etc. Beta-carotene (vitamin A) is derived from carrots, for example, and lycopene from tomatoes.]

Carotenoids have antioxidant properties. Little is known about the relation of dietary carotenoid intake on metabolic syndrome ["pre-diabetes"] risk. We examined whether dietary carotenoid intake was associated with metabolic syndrome and metabolic syndrome risk factors. We conducted a population-based, cross-sectional study in 374 men aged 40 to 80 years.

Intakes of beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin were estimated using a validated FFQ. Presence of metabolic syndrome was determined using fasting serum glucose, triglyceride, and HDL-cholesterol concentrations, waist circumference, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Metabolic syndrome was present in 22% of the men. After adjustment for confounders, total carotenoid and lycopene intakes were inversely associated with presence of metabolic syndrome [relative risk (RR) quartile 4 vs. quartile 1 (95% CI) 0.42 (0.20–0.87), P-trend 0.02; and 0.55 (0.28–1.11), P-trend 0.01, respectively].

• For beta-carotene, a decreased risk was observed for each quartile of intake compared with the first [RR quartile 4 vs. quartile 1 (95% CI) 0.58 (0.33–1.02)]. [Note: An RR of 1.0 would indicate no difference. The RR of 0.58 for the highest beta carotene intake quartile vs. the lowest quartile indicates 42% less risk of metabolic syndrome.]

• Higher total carotenoid, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and lycopene intakes were associated with lower waist circumferences and visceral and subcutaneous fat mass.

• Higher lycopene intake was related to lower serum triglyceride concentrations.

In conclusion, higher total carotenoid intakes, mainly those of beta-carotene and lycopene, were associated with a lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome and with lower measures of adiposity [fat] and serum triglyceride concentrations in middle-aged and elderly men.

Source: Journal of Nutrition, May 2009. PMID: 19321578, by Sluijs I, Beulens JWJ, Grobbee DE, van der Schouw YT. Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands. [E-mail: i.sluijs-2@umcutrecht.nl]

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