Colorful fruits and vegetables linked to longer telomeres and longer life

Carotenoids are yellow, orange, and red pigments present in fruits and vegetables. There are more than 600 carotenoids; the most commonly consumed and well-studied carotenoids include beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

Some carotenoids are converted to vitamin A in the body — beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin for example; these carotenoids are important for proper immune function. Carotenoids give the skin a healthy glow and defend the body’s tissues against oxidative damage, helping to prevent chronic diseases and premature aging.

The richer your diet in carotenoids, the greater the likelihood of longer telomeres (DNA sequences at the end of chromosomes). The length of telomeres is an indicator of biological aging—the longer the telomere length, the slower the aging of cells. Many studies have connected a healthy diet and lifestyle behaviors to longer telomeres.

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