Carotenoids are the most widespread pigments in nature, extremely important for human health, but are highly unstable molecules especially when exposed to light, oxygen and heat. Many authors report the carotenoid's importance, mainly its pro‐vitamin A (α‐ and β‐carotene) and, additionally, the antioxidant capacity of some of them. Currently, more than 600 carotenoids are known and characterized by their chemical structures. In vegetables, common pro‐vitamin A carotenoids include β‐carotene and its 9, 13 and 15 isomers, α‐carotene and β‐cryptoxanthin. Other common carotenoids such as lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin do not have pro‐vitamin A activity but serve as natural antioxidants. They are found in many fruits and vegetables such as carrots, yellow sweet potatoes, yellow sweet cassava and pumpkins. Normally, in these plant materials, the β‐carotene is the most abundant. It is still used as natural food coloring, which is not very expensive, since enough 3–5 g of β‐carotene is used to impart a yellow color characteristic of a ton of margarine. There is also a description of its importance in the formation of compounds responsible for flavors that are of interest fragrance and food industries. The purpose of this chapter is to report the presence of pro‐vitamin A carotenoids, mainly the β‐carotene in pumpkins, yellow sweet potato and yellow sweet and bitter cassava.
Part of the book: Carotenoids