Carotenoids are ancient, ubiquitous and versatile secondary metabolites that play key roles in Nature. They appeared early in the history of life on Earth and they are widespread among living beings, where they are involved in many beneficial actions. To date, over 750 have been described in animals, plants, macroalgae, some fungi and a wide variety of pro and eukaryotic microorganisms.
Due to their versatility, carotenoids are special food components. They provide colour (one of the main attributes related to food acceptability) and some can be converted into vitamin A. Besides, carotenoid-rich diets are associated with lower risks of developing several forms of cancer, eye disorders, or cardiovascular diseases, among other conditions. In addition, they can protect from (photo)oxidation in living organisms and in foods.