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Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 Dec;62(6 Suppl):1370S-1376S.

Epidemiologic evidence of a role of carotenoids in cardiovascular disease prevention.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 27599-7400, USA.


The tremendous chemical potential of the highly conjugated double bonds in carotenoids has driven research into their protective role in cardiovascular disease development. Prevention of low-density-lipoprotein oxidation and reduction of oxidative stress at the plaque formation are popular hypotheses underlying this research. Many epidemiologic studies have examined relations between beta-carotene exposure and cardiovascular disease risk. These studies used different measures to determine carotenoid exposure: semiquantitative food-frequency questionnaires, carotenoid concentrations in serum taken before the onset of disease and analyzed after diagnosis, and carotenoid concentrations in adipose tissue. Although the epidemiologic evidence is consistent with a protective association between beta-carotene and cardiovascular disease, findings from the first single intervention trial conducted in a large free-living population cast doubts on the utility of beta-carotene for all high-risk populations. Beta-Carotene may only represent a marker of dietary behavior conductive to lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Research on other carotenoids is needed.

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