Dietary intake of carotenoids and risk of type 2 diabetes

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2015 Apr;25(4):376-81. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2014.12.008. Epub 2014 Dec 31.


Background and aims: Carotenoids may reduce diabetes risk, due to their antioxidant properties. However, the association between dietary carotenoids intake and type 2 diabetes risk is still unclear. Therefore, the objective of this study was to examine whether higher dietary carotenoid intakes associate with reduced type 2 diabetes risk.

Methods and results: Data from 37,846 participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition- Netherlands study were analyzed. Dietary intakes of β-carotene, α-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein & zeaxanthin and the sum of these carotenoids were assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire. Incident type 2 diabetes was mainly self-reported, and verified against general practitioner information. Mean ±SD total carotenoid intake was 10 ± 4 mg/day. During a mean ±SD follow-up of 10 ± 2 years, 915 incident cases of type 2 diabetes were ascertained. After adjustment for age, sex, diabetes risk factors, dietary intake, waist circumference and BMI, higher β-carotene intakes associated inversely with diabetes risk [Hazard Ratio quartile 4 versus quartile 1 (HR(Q4)): 0.78 (95%CI:0.64,0.95), P-linear trend 0.01]. For α-carotene, a borderline significant reduced risk was observed, with a HR(Q4) of 0.85 (95%CI:0.70,1.03), and P-linear trend 0.05. β-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein & zeaxanthin, and the sum of all carotenoids did not associate with diabetes risk.

Conclusions: This study shows that diets high in β-carotene and α-carotene are associated with reduced type 2 diabetes in generally healthy men and women.

Keywords: Carotenoids; Cohort study; Diet; Type 2 diabetes; α-carotene; β-carotene.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Carotenoids / administration & dosage*
  • Cryptoxanthins / administration & dosage
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lutein / administration & dosage
  • Lycopene
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Zeaxanthins / administration & dosage
  • beta Carotene / administration & dosage


  • Antioxidants
  • Cryptoxanthins
  • Zeaxanthins
  • beta Carotene
  • Carotenoids
  • alpha-carotene
  • Lycopene
  • Lutein