Carotenoids constitute a ubiquitous group of isoprenoid pigments. They are very efficient physical quenchers of singlet oxygen and scavengers of other reactive oxygen species. Carotenoids can also act as chemical quenchers undergoing irreversible oxygenation. The molecular mechanisms underlying these reactions are still not fully understood, especially in the context of the anti- and pro-oxidant activity of carotenoids, which, although not synthesized by humans and animals, are also present in their blood and tissues, contributing to a number of biochemical processes. The antioxidant potential of carotenoids is of particular significance to human health, due to the fact that losing antioxidant-reactive oxygen species balance results in “oxidative stress”, a critical factor of the pathogenic processes of various chronic disorders. Data coming from epidemiological studies and clinical trials strongly support the observation that adequate carotenoid supplementation may significantly reduce the risk of several disorders mediated by reactive oxygen species. Here, we would like to highlight the beneficial (protective) effects of dietary carotenoid intake in exemplary widespread modern civilization diseases, i.e.
, cancer, cardiovascular or photosensitivity disorders, in the context of carotenoids’ unique antioxidative properties.