Epidemiological studies have consistently shown that regular consumption of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and fish oils, is strongly associated with reduced risk of developing chronic diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Over the years, numerous bioactive compounds have been identified that contribute to these beneficial health effects. In particular, carotenoids have been shown to exhibit potential antioxidant, anti-atherogenic and anticarcinogenic properties in several experimental studies. More recently, evidence is emerging that specific combinations of carotenoids with other bioactive food components may be far more effective in protecting against cancer and cardiovascular diseases than isolated compounds. The present review summarizes the in vitro and in vivo evidence for additive and synergistic interactions of carotenoids with various dietary bioactive food components, including vitamin E, vitamin C, phenolics, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and lipoic acid, in preventing oxidative stress, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying such synergistic effects, as well as the number of the studies, is still limited, but it appears that different combinations of complementary modes of actions may be an appropriate strategy for significantly reducing the risk of chronic diseases and to meet nutrient requirements for optimum health.
Keywords: Lycopene, bioactive food components, antioxidant interactions, antitumoral interactions, prevention of cardiovascular diseases, Carotenoids, β-carotene, chronic disease, cancer, anticarckinogenic
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