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Long-term strict raw food diet is associated with favourable plasma β-carotene and low plasma lycopene concentrations in Germans

  • Ada L. Garcia (a1) (a2), Corinna Koebnick (a1) (a3), Peter C. Dagnelie (a4), Carola Strassner (a1), Ibrahim Elmadfa (a5), Norbert Katz (a6), Claus Leitzmann (a1) and Ingrid Hoffmann (a1)...


Dietary carotenoids are associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases. Raw food diets are predominantly plant-based diets that are practised with the intention of preventing chronic diseases by virtue of their high content of beneficial nutritive substances such as carotenoids. However, the benefit of a long-term adherence to these diets is controversial since little is known about their adequacy. Therefore, we investigated vitamin A and carotenoid status and related food sources in raw food diet adherents in Germany. Dietary vitamin A, carotenoid intake, plasma retinol and plasma carotenoids were determined in 198 (ninety-two male and 106 female) strict raw food diet adherents in a cross-sectional study. Raw food diet adherents consumed on average 95 weight% of their total food intake as raw food (approximately 1800 g/d), mainly fruits. Raw food diet adherents had an intake of 1301 retinol activity equivalents/d and 16·7 mg/d carotenoids. Plasma vitamin A status was normal in 82 % of the subjects ( ≥ 1·05 μmol/l) and 63 % had β-carotene concentrations associated with chronic disease prevention ( ≥ 0·88 μmol/l). In 77 % of subjects the lycopene status was below the reference values for average healthy populations ( < 0·45 μmol/l). Fat contained in fruits, vegetables and nuts and oil consumption was a significant dietary determinant of plasma carotenoid concentrations (β-carotene r 0·284; P < 0·05; lycopene r 0·168; P = 0·024). Long-term raw food diet adherents showed normal vitamin A status and achieve favourable plasma β-carotene concentrations as recommended for chronic disease prevention, but showed low plasma lycopene levels. Plasma carotenoids in raw food adherents are predicted mainly by fat intake.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Professor Ingrid Hoffmann, fax +49 6419939059, email


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