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Carotenoids are organic pigments occurring in plants (as well as algae and some types of bacteria and fungi). One class of carotenoids is the carotenes, many of which can be converted to Vitamin A in humans. Vitamin A (retinol) is important to human health in many ways including acting as an antioxidant. Orange and red fruits and vegetables (e.g. carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes) have high levels of carotenes, but dark green leafy vegetables do as well (e.g. spinach, collards).

(see also Nutrition in the Research section, and The QPM success story)

Samples with varying carotenoid levels

Higher levels of carotenoids result in kernels that are darker orange in color. Photo from Torbert Rocheford's lab, Purdue University.