Foods high in lutein can actually help protect your eyesight.Lutein is used by the body as an antioxidant to help combat free radicals thus protecting the eye from damage. But before we dive into to the foods that are high in lutein let’s answer the question – what is lutein.
Lutein is just one of over 600 known naturally occurring carotenoids. It is a part of the carotenoid family belonging in the subcategory of the carotenoids called: xanthophylls.
Also belonging to this subcategory is the antioxidant zeaxanthin. Actually lutein and zeaxanthin are the only two carotenoids found in the lens and the retina of the eye. They function as antioxidants that work together to protect the eye from unstable atoms, commonly known as free radicals.
Carotenoids (lutein & zeaxanthin) are fat-soluble which means they absorb better into your system when they are eaten with fats, being transported through your bloods system by your LDL – cholesterol.
Lutein comes from the Latin name luteus that means “yellow or gold” which is its natural color.
Even though lutein’s natural color is yellow or gold, it can be found in a number of different colored vegetables. Egg yolks contain both, lutein and zeaxanthin and even though their levels in egg yolks are significantly less than some dark leafy greens, when eaten in the form of an egg yolk the lutein source is more readily available because eggs increase the levels in the blood more than let’s say spinach.
Also cooking your leafy greens on a low heat temperature helps to increase the availability of the lutein, because this helps to break down the cell walls to release the carotenoid-protein complexes.
A List of Foods high in Lutein – Raw and cooked chart below
Some of the best natural sources of lutein (and zeaxanthin) come from dark leafy vegetables. It’s true – the darker the green the better for you it is.
It you need to up your intake of lutein – what better way to do it than with a smoothie! Foods high in lutein can be easily added to your blender; in fact most green smoothie recipes already contain dark leafy vegetables with an already high lutein content.
(pronounced LOO – TEEN) When looking for lutein supplements be sure that you buy a natural high quality product from a reputable company. Most all lutein supplements contain small traces of zeaxanthin because naturally they tend to go together, some manufactures label them separately, but some do not.
Daily Requirement for Lutein?
Research has suggested 6-10mg per day minimum, if you are getting this through your food than it is probably not necessary for you to take lutein supplements. However if you are interested in lutein supplements consult with your doctor for farther information.
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