Nutritionists have long advised us to add color to our diet. In fact, they say the more colors we eat, the better balanced the meal. A new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine supports this belief.
Carotenoids are yellow, orange and red pigments made by plants that come into our body through fruits and vegetables. They're found in yellow-orange vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes, and dark green vegetables, like green beans.
There are two types of carotenoids, alpha- and beta-carotene, which both produce vitamin A in our bodies. More is known about beta-carotene because of its possible role in preventing chronic disease.
Now, in a new study of over 15-thousand adults, researchers measured the concentration of alpha-carotene in the blood. Over a 14 year period they found that the risk of death was lower for people with elevated levels of alpha-carotene.
The investigators think that the benefits of high alpha-carotene eventually flattens out - it's not an elixir of eternal life. But they conclude that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption may prevent premature death.
The science is still out on just how this works. But it further supports previous findings - and conventional wisdom - that fruit and vegetable consumption is beneficial to people's overall health.