Carotenoids are lipid-soluble pigments found in many vegetable crops that are reported to have the health benefits of cancer and eye disease reduction when consumed in the diet. Research shows that environmental and genetic factors can significantly influence carotenoid concentrations in vegetable crops, and that changing cultural management strategies could be advantageous, resulting in increased vegetable carotenoid concentrations. Improvements in vegetable carotenoid levels have been achieved using traditional breeding methods and molecular transformations to stimulate biosynthetic pathways. Postharvest and processing activities can alter carotenoid chemistry, and ultimately affect bioavailability. Bioavailability data emphasize the importance of carotenoid enhancement in vegetable crops and the need to characterize potential changes in carotenoid composition during cultivation, storage and processing before consumer purchase. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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