Carrots contain a class of fat-soluble pigments called carotenoids. These carotenoids can vary in colour from yellow to orange to red. They protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals and enhance the functioning of the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells in the immune system, including T cells.
The most common carotenoids are beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, beta-crpytoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin, and can be found in other fruit and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, kale, tomatoes, spinach, red peppers and apricots.
Eating these foods raw, or lightly steaming them will help to retain the carotenoids. It is also important that they are eaten with a certain amount of oil, perhaps a drizzle of cold-pressed olive oil, to ensure that they are adequately absorbed through the gut. This is because the carotenoids are fat-soluble.
There have been multiple studies showing that carotenoids substantially reduce the risk of breast cancer. In a study of 5,450 postmenopausal women studied over an eight-year period, (published in the International Journal of Cancer 2009), higher consumption of carotenoid laden vegetables almost cut their risk of invasive breast cancer in half.
In another study, (published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, 2009), which looked into women with all different stages of breast cancer, (from the earliest stages right up until recurrence of the disease after previously successful treatment), the study concluded that “higher biological exposure to carotenoids, when assessed over the time frame of the study, was associated with greater likelihood of breast cancer-free survival, regardless of study group assignment.”
Of course, the studies presented here relate to breast cancer, but that does not mean that carotenoids do not have an effect on other forms of cancer, or their prevention.
Power Combination: combine any sources of beta-carotene with avocado, because the fat in avocado has been shown to increase the absorption of beta-carotene by up to 13 times over. Alternatively, a drizzle of cold-pressed olive oil will help too.