A group of red, orange and yellow pigments found in plant foods and in the tissues of organisms that consume plants. Carotenoids have antioxidant activity and some, but not all, can act as precursors of vitamin A. Studies have shown that several carotenoids other than beta-carotene are potent antioxidants that provide profound health benefits. Because of this, the scientific community has now recognized the importance of natural mixed carotenoids including beta-carotene.