As a food additive, zeaxanthin is a food dye Zeaxanthin is one of the most common carotenoid alcohols found in nature. It is the pigment that gives corn, saffron, and many other plants their characteristic color. Zeaxanthin breaks down to form picrocrocin and safranal, which are responsible for the taste and aroma of saffron. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two of the most abundant carotenoids in the North American diet. Unlike beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin, these two carotenoids are not considered to be "provitamin A" compounds, as they are not converted in the body into retinol, an active form of vitamin A. The names of both of these yellow colored phytonutrients reflect their natural hue with lutein being derived from the Latin word luteus meaning golden yellow while zea refers to the corn genus and xantho- is derived from a Greek word that means yellow. While these carotenoids both have yellow pigments, they are found concentrated in foods of others colors, notably leafy green vegetables, since these foods also feature a host of other phytonutrients pigments in addition to lutein and zeaxanthin.