Over the past decades, obesity has become a rising health problem as the accessibility to high calorie, low nutritional value food has increased. Research shows that some bioactive components in fruits and vegetables, such as carotenoids, could contribute to the prevention and treatment of obesity. Some of these carotenoids are responsible for vitamin A production, a hormone-like vitamin with pleiotropic effects in mammals. Among these effects, vitamin A is a potent regulator of adipose tissue development, and is therefore important for obesity. This review focuses on the role of the provitamin A carotenoid β-carotene in human health, emphasizing the mechanisms by which this compound and its derivatives regulate adipocyte biology. It also discusses the physiological relevance of carotenoid accumulation, the implication of the carotenoid-cleaving enzymes, and the technical difficulties and considerations researchers must take when working with these bioactive molecules. Thanks to the broad spectrum of functions carotenoids have in modern nutrition and health, it is necessary to understand their benefits regarding to metabolic diseases such as obesity in order to evaluate their applicability to the medical and pharmaceutical fields.
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