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High Dietary Intake of Alpha and Beta Carotenes May Lower Risk of Diabetes

The risk of developing type-2 diabetes is closely linked with diet and exercise. A recent study suggest that high dietary intakes of alpha- and beta- carotene could help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 15% and 22%, respectively, in healthy adults.

Participants in the study included 37,846 people who took part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition in the Netherlands. In that study group, the mean total carotenoid intake was 10 mg/day. During the 10-year follow up period, the researchers documented 915 new cases of type-2 diabetes.

After examining the data, the researchers found that higher amounts of alpha-carotene were associated with a 15% lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Higher amounts of beta-carotene were associated with a 22% lower risk. The study looked only at dietary intake. It did not examine the effect of supplements.

The researchers hypothesized that the beneficial effects were due to the antioxidant functions of carotenoids.

No association was found between any other carotenoids and type-2 diabetes.

Researchers from the University Medical Center Utrecht and the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment conducted the study. It was published in the April 2015 issue of Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases.

Beta-carotene is a type of antioxidant known as a flavonoid. Previous studies have found associations between beta-carotene intake and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, improved oral health, and a lower risk of lung cancer. It can be found in vegetables and fruits that are green, yellow or orange.

Alpha-carotene is found in green and orange vegetables. It is the most common carotenoid in a healthy diet and has a strong antioxidant effect, fighting free radicals in the body.

Both beta carotene and alpha carotene are converted into vitamin A once they are consumed.
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