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Dietary Sources of Lutein and Zeaxanthin Carotenoids and Their Role in Eye Health

The importance for eye
The eye is a major sensory organ that requires special care for a healthy and productive lifestyle. Numerous studies have identified lutein and zeaxanthin to be essential components for eye health. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoid pigments that impart yellow or orange color to various common foods such as cantaloupe, pasta, corn, carrots, orange/yellow peppers, fish, salmon and eggs. Their role in human health, in particular the health of the eye, is well established from epidemiological, clinical and interventional studies. They constitute the main pigments found in the yellow spot of the human retina which protect the macula from damage by blue light, improve visual acuity and scavenge harmful reactive oxygen species. They have also been linked with reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. Research over the past decade has focused on the development of carotenoid-rich foods to boost their intake especially in the elderly population. The aim of this article is to review recent scientific evidences supporting the benefits of lutein and zexanthin in preventing the onset of two major age-related eye diseases with diets rich in these carotenoids. The review also lists major dietary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin and refers to newly developed foods, daily intake, bioavailability and physiological effects in relation to eye health. Examples of the newly developed high-lutein functional foods are also underlined.

 

The difference of lutein and zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are the most common xanthophylls in green leafy vegetables (e.g., kale, spinach, broccoli, peas and lettuce) and egg yolks. They are also found at relatively high levels in einkorn, Khorasan and durum wheat and corn and their food products. The ratio of lutein and zeaxanthin in green vegetables has been reported to range between 12 to 63, highest being in kale, while in yellow-orange fruits and vegetable this ratio ranges between 0.1 and 1.4. They also quantified small amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin in breads prepared from modern wheat varieties, Pioneer and Catoctin, while breads prepared from green-harvested wheat, Freekeh, an ancient grain, contained considerably large amounts of lutein powder and zeaxanthin compared to the North American breads. Lutein to zeaxanthin ratio followed the order Pioneer > Catochtin > Freekeh. Chicken egg yolk is deemed a better source of lutein and zeaxanthin compared to fruits and vegetables because of its increased bioavailability due to the high fat content in eggs.

 

Where to buy lutein?
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Xi'an Fengzu Biological Technology Co.,Ltd
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