Sunday, July 18, 2010

Enhancing the Absorption of Carotenoids

Catchy blog post title right? Pulled you right in I know, LOL. ;-) Okay so this isn’t an exciting thought for most people but I think it is good stuff and wanted to share it in a separate post to give it proper importance.

This morning we got up early and went to the farmers’ market and bought home our usual enormous haul of produce. I just love shopping for local produce. ;-) When we got home I wanted to have a big bowl of fruit for breakfast. I cut up a cantaloupe, added blackberries and blueberries and topped the fruit with ½ tablespoon of chia seeds on each serving. When I realized Dan didn’t know why the chia seeds were there I figured that meant I need to explain it to him and all of you.

Vitamin A and the carotenoids are absorbed in the small intestine. To properly absorb them requires the presence of lipid and bile. What this means ia a very low fat diet will reduce the bioavailability of the carotenoids. My solution is to add a little ground flaxseed, chia, hempseeds or nuts to most dishes. This is also why I included the cashew crème fraiche on the melon and berries we sometimes have for breakfast.

Some foods that contains carotenoids:

sweet potato
red peppers
beet greens
dandelion greens

While I don’t think it is important memorize which foods contain carotenoids I wanted to list a few. My approach is to add a few seeds and/or nuts to our meals to ensure absorption. This is also why I send trail mix with Dan to work so that he can have it with his fresh juice (which includes carrot, kale, spinach and collards).

What does vitamin A and carotenoids do?

Vitamin A is important for optimum health. Here are a few of its functions:

Plays an important role in vision. The rods in the eyes contain cis-retinal (a form of vitamin A). Vitamin A also helps to maintain the health of the cornea and helps you see in low light (night blindness or lack thereof).

Cell differentiation requires vitamin A. Cells are constantly turning over so we need a steady supply of vitamin A to “feed” the cells.

Vitamin A is required for a properly functioning immune system.

A diet rich in vitamin A is associated with lower risk of cancer. Not vitamin A from supplements, which is dangerous, but vitamin A from food.

I hope this encourages you to want to absorb all the carotenoids you can from your food.

Unrelated notes:

As I mentioned we started our morning at the farmers’ market. You know you get there early when the farmers’ are still pulling in and setting up when you get there, LOL. I love going to the farmers’ market downtown but the parking situation is not the best. When you buy as much produce as we do you don’t want to lug it for a few blocks. Since we get there early we do a couple of laps around the market to get our blood pumping and then chat with our favorite organic farmers before we start shopping.

Today we brought home quite the haul of gorgeous organic produce. This morning we picked up: 3 bunches kale, 1 bunch collards, ½ pound ginger, 2 pounds beets, 1 pound shitakes, 3 Italian zucchinis (more spiralized zucchini coming), 9 big tomatoes, 3 white eggplants, 2 pints blackberries, 1 cantaloupe, and 9 cucumbers. I probably forgot something but you get the idea. I love local produce. ;-)

Right now I have no idea what I making for the mid day meal with my parents. The zucchini seems to be calling my name, but I tend to change my mind often so who knows. It is supposed to be another scorcher today so raw food is appealing to me at the moment.

I hope everyone is having a happy and healthy weekend. Talk to you again soon. ;-)


  1. I think shopping at farmers' markets should count as a cardio session....

  2. Heather,

    LOL, what a great idea. I did check my bugg when we got finished and we covered approximately a mile and half with our food shopping. ;-) Not too bad considering it was unplanned exercise.

    talk to you later,


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