Foods High in Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Foods high in lutein include lots of different colorful vegetables and fruits but because it is fat soluble be sure to include some healthy fats, like olive oil when eating.

foods high in lutein

The only way to take advantage of the antioxidant benefits of lutein is by eating foods that are rich in this carotenoid or through supplementation.



The body cannot make lutein so you must get it from food or supplements.

Foods with Lutein

Actually this antioxidant is found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but egg yolks seem to be the best source because they are more bioavailable and better absorbed by the body.

foods high in lutein

Yellow plant pigments commonly found in yellow and dark green, leafy vegetables may reduce the risk of macular degeneration (AMD), according to a study reported in the September 2007 issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

Here is a List of Foods High in Lutein

lutein for eyes


Carrots

Squash

Cantaloupe

foods that contain lutein

Tomatoes

Spinach

Oranges

Kale

Collard greens

Red Pepper

Tomatoes

foods containing lutein

Broccoli

Corn

Eggs

Zucchini

According to The Lutein Information Bureau lightly cooked vegetables are a better source of lutein than raw, as the lutein is released when the cell walls are broken down by the cooking.

Here is a picture of a soup I make that includes foods high in lutein such as kale, tomatoes, and carrots.

foods high in lutein

Recipe for White Bean and Kale Soup

BY JENNIFER TRAINER THOMPSON AND JOHANNA M. SEDDON, MD from Eat Right For Your Sight

Because lutein is a fat-soluble substance, it is important to eat some healthy fat with your raw vegetables, such as olive oil, for proper absorption through the digestive tract.

"Without fat, we know that lutein absorption is negligible," says nutrition researcher Cheryl Rock, PhD, of the University of California, San Diego.

If your diet is low in (healthy) fat your carotenoid absorption may be affected. This may explain that while spinach has a higher concentration, the lesser amount in egg yolks is more absorbable and bio-available.


When you are eating your fresh spinach salad with some broccoli remember to use some olive oil as your dressing

Foods Containing Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Many of the foods high in lutein also provide the eye healthy carotinoid, zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two of the main carotenoids that make up the macular pigment (MP).  The MP is responsible for protecting the eye from the harmful effects of free radicals. This pigment also protects the eye from the damaging effects of blue light. MP can be increased through diet and/or supplementation.

foods containing lutein and zeaxanthin

These two carotinoids are found in the macular pigment and help to support the health of the macula.

Here are some of the top foods containing lutein and zeaxanthin published by the American Macular Degeneration Foundation....

Kale

Turnip Greens

Collards

Spinach

Broccoli

Corn

foods high in lutein

Romaine Lettuce

Peas

Brussel Sprouts

Green Beans

Carrots

A chart listing LUTEIN & ZEAXANTHIN CONCENTRATION IN FRUITS & VEGETABLES by the American Macular Degeneration Foundation

"The available research investigating the impact of cooking on carotenoids in plant sources suggests that although the heat decreases the carotenoid content, it may nonetheless enhance the bioavailability of the carotenoids compared with uncooked sources."

Lutein and Zeaxanthin—Food Sources, Bioavailability and Dietary Variety in Age-Related Macular Degeneration Protection

Super-Greens Powder

My husband who is at high risk for macular degeneration, due to family history, unfortunately does not like eating salads or cooked greens. 

lutein and macular degeneration

While I would agree that eating fresh or cooked spinach, kale, or collard greens is better, I needed to find another solution for him to get his greens.  We've found that Amazing Grass Green Superfood is a good alternative.  Put the powder in smoothies or just mix with water and you can get an ample supply of many antioxidant rich nutrients from a variety of organic fruits and vegetables, including organic spinach and kale. 

Amazing Grass Green Superfood Organic Powder with Wheat Grass and Greens, 30 Servings

Goji Berries Benefits to the Eyes

In the health-food industry, the Chinese wolfberry, more commonly known as the goji berry, is being touted as the next great "super food."

foods high in lutein

Goji berries grow on an evergreen shrub found in temperate and subtropical regions in China, Mongolia and in the Himalayas in Tibet. The berries are usually found dried and look like red raisins.

foods high in lutein

Rich in antioxidants, particularly carotenoids such as beta-carotene, goji berries are commonly found in juices and teas or can be bought as a dried fruit.

Despite the berry's popularity, the scientific research on the goji berry is still in its infancy. "There is limited data on the wolfberry," said Mark Failla, chairman of the Human Nutrition Department at Ohio State University, who is studying the goji. Based on early research on the berry, Failla says it's clear that gojis contain extremely high levels of zeaxanthin, a carotenoid related to beta carotene.

Goji berries and juices can be found at Chinese herbal shops or on line. Eat them as a snack or put them in your smoothie or oatmeal. Our favorite brand is Navitas and we have found the best price at Amazon here:

Navitas Organics Goji Berries, 16 oz. Bag — Organic, Non-GMO, Sun-Dried, Sulfite-Free

It is important to note that goji berries may interact with anticoagulant drugs (commonly called "blood-thinners"), such as warfarin (Coumadin®).

According to Lisa Hark, PhD, RD, a renowned nutrition expert and registered dietician at Wills Eye Hospital Department of Research in Philadelphia, " ... the retina has the highest rate of metabolism in the body and consumes the most oxygen."

That's why it's so important to nourish it everyday with nutrients from foods high in lutein and zeaxanthin to help the retina to function at its best. 

For More Information:

Learn Why You Should Include Kale in your Diet 

Go from Foods High in Lutein to Macular Degeneration Diet 

Go from Foods High in Lutein to Macular Degeneration 


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