Consuming a diet rich in carotenes — bioactive compounds found in yellow, orange, and green fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, mangoes, papayas, and apricots, among others, can help reduce the build-up of fats in arteries, and blockage finds a study.

The study showed that a high level of carotenes in the blood is linked with a lower degree of atherosclerosis in the arteries and thus a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Atherosclerosis is the build-up of fat, generally the LDL or “bad” type of cholesterol, on the inner walls of the blood vessels.

This build-up, in the form of atherosclerotic plaques, causes a narrowing of the vessel’s internal diameter, thereby hindering the blood’s circulation.

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Furthermore, these plaques can rupture and form clots that obstruct the blood flow, which can lead to myocardial infarctions (heart attacks), when the blood doesn’t reach the heart, or ischaemic strokes when it doesn’t reach the brain.

The study, published in the journal Clinical Nutrition, looked at 200 people aged between 50 and 70.

The volunteers taking part in the study were analyzed with regard to two parameters: the concentration of carotenes in the blood and, by means of ultrasound imaging, the presence of atherosclerotic plaques in the carotid artery.

“The study concludes that the greater the concentration of carotenes in the blood, the lesser the atherosclerotic burden, particularly in women,” said Gemma Chiva Blanch, associate professor and researcher at the Faculty of Health Sciences of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC).

“So, we can confirm that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and thus in carotenes lowers the risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases,” Chiva Blanch said.