The main difference between carotene and carotenoid is that carotene is a type of carotenoid that does not contain oxygen whereas carotenoid is an organic pigment that serves as an accessory pigment in photosynthesis.
Carotene and carotenoid are two types of accessory pigments of photosynthesis found in fruits, vegetables, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria. The other type of carotenoid is xanthophyll. Furthermore, carotene is more orange in color while xanthophyll is more yellow in color.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is a Carotene
– Definition, Structure, Function
2. What is a Carotenoid
– Definition, Structure, Function
3. What are the Similarities Between Carotene and Carotenoid
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Carotene and Carotenoid
– Comparison of Key Differences
Accessory Pigments, Antioxidants, Carotene, Carotenoid, Tetraterpenoid, Vitamin A, Xanthophyll
What is a Carotene
Carotene is an unsaturated hydrocarbon found in plants and other photosynthetic organisms. The molecular formula of carotene is C40Hx. Most importantly, it does not contain an oxygen atom. Also, carotenes absorb light in the ultraviolet, violet, and blue range, emitting an orange or red color. Therefore, they are responsible for the orange color in carrots and other fruits and vegetables. In addition, they are responsible for the orange color in fungi and in dry foliage. However, in lower concentrations, they are responsible for the yellow color in butter and milk-fat.
Some examples of carotene are β-carotene, α-carotene, and lycopene. Both β-carotene and α-carotene produce vitamin A. Some good sources of β-carotene are cantaloupe, mangoes, papaya, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, and pumpkin. Moreover, pumpkin, carrots, tomatoes, collards, tangerines, winter squash, and peas contain α-carotene. On the other hand, lycopene occurs in watermelons, tomatoes, guavas, and grapefruit. Here, β-carotene intake reduces the risk of metabolic disease in men while α-carotene can prevent cardiovascular disease. All carotenes reduce the risk of lung cancer.
What is a Carotenoid
Carotenoid is a tetraterpenoid, an organic pigment only produced by photosynthetic organisms including plants, algae, and bacteria. It gives a bright red, orange or yellow color to fruits and vegetables. Generally, carotenoids serve as accessory pigments involved in photosynthesis. However, animals cannot synthesize carotenoids inside their body. However, these compounds play an important function in the body. They serve as antioxidants, which can deactivate free radicals. Therefore, they have strong cancer-fighting properties. Also, some carotenoids such as β-carotene are converted into vitamin A inside the animal body. In addition, carotenoids have anti-inflammatory effects and some immune functions, which help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Furthermore, the two main categories of carotenoids are carotenes and xanthophylls. The main difference between carotene and xanthophyll is that carotene does not contain oxygen atoms in its structure while xanthophyll contains an oxygen atom. Additionally, they absorb and emit light in different wavelengths. Therefore, carotene gives a red to orange color while xanthophyll mainly gives a yellow color. When considering xanthophylls, lutein and zeaxanthin are the two types responsible for the yellow color of the macula lutea or the yellow spot in the retina of the human eye. The yellow spot is responsible for the central vision while protecting the retina from blue light. Furthermore, good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin are kale, spinach, turnip greens, summer squash, pumpkin, paprika, yellow-fleshed fruits, avocado, and egg yolk.
Similarities Between Carotene and Carotenoid
- Carotene and carotenoid are two derivatives of tetraterpenes.
- Generally, they are made up of 8 isoprene molecules and contain 40 carbon atoms.
- Besides, they both serve as accessory pigments in photosynthetic organisms such as plants, algae, and bacteria by capturing sunlight.
- These pigments give colors to organisms ranging from red, orange to yellow.
- Furthermore, they serve as antioxidants, which deactivate free radicals.
- Also, they have anti-inflammatory effects and perform immune functions in the body.
Difference Between Carotene and Carotenoid
A carotene refers to an orange or red plant pigment found in carrots and many other plant structures while carotenoid refers to any of a class of mainly yellow, orange, or red fat-soluble pigments, which give color to plant parts such as ripe tomatoes and autumn leaves. Thus, this is the main difference between carotene and carotenoid.
Importantly, carotene is a type of carotenoid while the two types of carotenoids are carotene and xanthophyll. Hence, this is also a difference between carotene and carotenoid.
Furthermore, one other difference between carotene and carotenoid is that carotene gives an orange color while carotenoids give a red, orange or yellow color.
Moreover, carotene does not contain oxygen atoms in the structure while carotenoids such as xanthophyll contain oxygen atoms. Thus, this is another difference between carotene and carotenoid.
Carotene is one of the two types of carotenoids, which gives an orange color to fruits and vegetables. It is a type of tetraterpene, which does not contain oxygen atoms. In contrast, carotenoid is an accessory pigment found in photosynthetic organisms, capturing light. It gives red to yellow color to the plant. The two types of carotenoids are carotene and xanthophyll. Significantly, xanthophyll contains an oxygen atom in its tetraterpene structure. Both carotene and carotenoid also serve as antioxidants. However, the main difference between carotene and carotenoid is the presence of oxygen atom and the color they give to the plant.
1. Szalay, Jessie. “What Are Carotenoids?” LiveScience, Purch, 15 Oct. 2015, Available Here.
1. “Beta-carotene” By KES47 – File:Beta-carotene.png (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Raw egg” By by jefras a.k.a Joăo Estęvăo A. de Freitas. “There are no usage restrictions for this photo.” – The photo is from Stock.xchng, number 68609 (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia