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Nutr Res. 2013 May;33(5):358-66. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2013.02.010. Epub 2013 Apr 23.

Carotenoid bioavailability from raw vegetables and a moderate amount of oil in human subjects is greatest when the majority of daily vegetables are consumed at one meal.

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Department of Food Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.


While the impact of food composition and processing on carotenoid bioavailability has been the subject of several investigations, the effect of meal patterning remains unknown. The aim of this pilot study was to assess the impact of select consumption patterns on the bioavailability of carotenoids from vegetables. On three randomized testing days, subjects consumed raw salad vegetables and 8 g canola oil over a two meal period in three meal patterns. Meal patterns included consumption of 100% of vegetables and oil in the first meal and 0% in the second, 75% in the first meal and 25% in the second, and 50% in the first meal and 50% in the second. Additional protein-rich "chef's salad" ingredients were distributed equally between meals. We hypothesized that carotenoid absorption would be highest when 50% of vegetables and oil were consumed at each meal and lowest when 100% were consumed at once. Blood was collected 0 to 12 hours postprandially and triacylglycerol-rich lipoprotein fractions (TRL) were isolated by ultracentrifugation. TRL carotenoid concentrations were analyzed by high performance liquid chromatography-diode array detector. Considering all carotenoids, absorption expressed as area under the curve was greatest when ≥75% of vegetables were consumed in a single meal (P < .05). Absorption of carotenes also followed this trend (P < .05 for α- and β-carotene). For xanthophylls, consuming all vegetables in one meal increased absorption compared to intake of 50% at each meal (P < .05). These data suggest that carotenoid absorption may be the greatest when daily recommended vegetables are consumed in one meal compared to smaller doses over multiple meals.

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