Preliminary and experimental studies suggest that a higher dietary intake of carotenes offers protection against certain cancers, such as lung, skin, uterine, cervix, and gastrointestinal tract; heart disease; macular degeneration; cataracts; and other health conditions linked to oxidative or free-radical damage. One of the major problems with the research on carotenes in cancer and cardiovascular disease protection has been the focus on beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is likely of less importance than many other carotenes, especially lycopene and lutein, because it does not exert the same degree of antioxidant protection.
Increasing your levels of lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin can play a central role in protecting against the development of macular degeneration. Although lutein and lycopene supplements are entering the marketplace, they are relatively expensive, especially when compared to food sources.