Frequent intake of tropical fruits that are rich in beta-cryptoxanthin is associated with higher plasma beta-cryptoxanthin concentrations in Costa Rican adolescents

J Nutr. 2002 Oct;132(10):3161-7. doi: 10.1093/jn/131.10.3161.


Dietary tocopherols and carotenoids may play a role in preventing cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Because these may begin to develop during adolescence, dietary patterns during this period could influence long-term risk. The objective of this study was to examine the intake and plasma concentrations of the major carotenoids and tocopherols in 159 adolescents (mean +/- SD, 15.5 +/- 2.5 y old) living in Costa Rica. All participants completed a 135-item food-frequency questionnaire and provided a fasting blood sample. Carotenoid and tocopherol intakes were adjusted for total energy and plasma concentrations for total cholesterol. The relative abundance of carotenoids in the diet was similar to their distribution in plasma; lycopene was the most abundant, followed by beta-carotene and lutein + zeaxanthin. gamma-Tocopherol was more abundant than alpha-tocopherol in the diet, but alpha-tocopherol was approximately sevenfold higher in plasma. The highest diet-plasma correlations (adjusted for age, sex and body mass index) were 0.38 for beta-cryptoxanthin, 0.33 for gamma-tocopherol and 0.17 for lutein + zeaxanthin (all P < 0.05). All other correlations were r < 0.15. Papaya intake was the best food predictor of plasma beta-cryptoxanthin concentrations (r = 0.41). Subjects that frequently (> or =3/d) consumed tropical fruits with at least 50 micro g/100 g beta-cryptoxanthin (papaya, tangerine, orange and watermelon) had twofold the plasma beta-cryptoxanthin concentrations of those with intakes of <4/wk (P for trend = 0.0009). In sum, the diet-plasma carotenoid and tocopherol correlations were generally low in Costa Rican adolescents. Intakes of beta-cryptoxanthin and papaya, a tropical fruit frequently consumed in Latin America, were the best predictors of beta-cryptoxanthin concentrations in plasma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / blood
  • Carotenoids / administration & dosage
  • Carotenoids / blood
  • Child
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Costa Rica
  • Cryptoxanthins
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Fruit / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Lutein / administration & dosage
  • Lutein / blood
  • Lycopene
  • Male
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tocopherols / administration & dosage
  • Tocopherols / blood
  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • beta Carotene / administration & dosage*
  • beta Carotene / analogs & derivatives*
  • beta Carotene / blood*


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Cryptoxanthins
  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • beta Carotene
  • Carotenoids
  • Cholesterol
  • Tocopherols
  • Lycopene
  • Lutein