RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—You may have seen vitamin or supplements with lutein on the label, but it's easy to incorporate lutein-rich foods into your diet. Lutein is a type of antioxidant known as a carotenoid. It functions together with zeaxanthin, another carotenoid that's found in the same foods as lutein. Both of these phytochemicals can protect your eyes from age-related damage, according to Harvard researchers. The two nutrients appear to accumulate in your eyes' retinas, where they're able to absorb the type of light rays that can cause damage.
Just 1½ daily servings of foods with lutein and zeaxanthin in them have been shown to lower the risk of one form of vision loss called age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by 50 percent. Research at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston also showed that a high daily intake of lutein and zeaxanthin through food sources cut AMD risk. Also, seven daily servings can reduce the risk of cataracts by 18 percent. The average American consumes about 2 milligrams (mg) of lutein through food, but studies show that we need 6 to 10 mg per day—a great reason to take a closer look at your daily lutein intake. If you haven't given it much thought before now, you may still be able to improve you vision. In another study at North Chicago, Illinois' Department of Veterans' Affairs Medical Center Eye Clinic, 90 people with AMD who consumed 10 mg of lutein daily for a year saw vision improvements of one full line on a vision chart.
And these carotenoids don't just provide vision-protecting benefits. They may also help prevent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) in men. Researchers analyzed the dietary habits of 857 people who had participated in a study at the National Cancer Institute. What they found was that those who consumed three servings of lutein- and zeaxanthin-rich vegetables daily were 46 percent less likely to develop NHL than the participants who ate less of these foods.
Good food sources of lutein (and zeaxanthin) include kale, collard greens, spinach, romaine lettuce, corn, peas, leeks, zucchini, broccoli, and eggs. Read on and try these recipes from the Rodale Recipe Finder and boost your intake of these vision-preserving carotenoids in a delicious way.
Published on: December 9, 2009
Updated on: March 11, 2010