Lutein (Loo-teen) is a carotenoid, meaning a natural pigment, and found in leafy green vegetables, along with another little-known-nutrient called zeaxanthin.
Abundant in kale, corn, spinach and turnips, smaller amounts are also present in green beans, egg yolks, broccoli and lettuce.
As both lutein and zeaxanthin are found together in nature, it illustrates how beneficial whole-foods can be in comparison to supplements that can isolate a vitamin or mineral and allow us to take in nutrients individually. Many vitamins, minerals and enzymes work together in our food, hence maintaining maximum benefit to our health.
This is how the body evolved: with foods that contained vitamins and minerals that operate in tandem to nourish and complete chemical reactions that keep us moving and protect against disease.
5 Things To Know About Lutein
- our body does not create lutein, so it is required in our diet
- 1 cup of kale creates 24 mg of Lutein & Zeaxanthin
- the retina retains levels of both nutrients to guard against oxidative stress induced by light
- protects the eyes against age-related problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration
- 6-10 mg /day is the generally recommended amount, though official RDAs are not set.
In 2004, research suggested that Lutein improves the symptoms of macular degeneration, a progressive eye disease in older people. Lutein intake fortifies the macular in the eye and protects against light-induced free radical damage to healthy eye cells.
While adding more of this nutrient to your diet may not directly improve dry eye symptoms, the benefits to general eye health are clear.
Studies also show that Lutein is of benefit for skin health. It assists in skin hydration, elasticity and skin lipid content. With skin being our largest organ, it is the most exposed to damaging light and UV. Together with other antioxidants, Lutein again plays a protective role against oxidative stress in skin cells.
Cooking with Kale
Kale is a highly nutritious complement to lots of meals. Packed with minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium and more, kale comes complete with a little protein too.
Of no surprise is that most of us don’t eat enough greens. Kale can be used in a variety of ways in soups and casseroles or simply steamed as a side dish.
Try one these dishes to add more kale into your diet.
Morganti P., Palambo, P., et al. (2006). “New Evidence for Efficacy of Lutein/Zeaxanthin in Skin Health.” Beyond Beauty Paris 2006 Conference Abstract.
Nolan JM, Stack J, Mellerio J, Godhinio M, O’Donovan O, Neelam K, Beatty S. Monthly consistency of macular pigment optical density and serum concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin. Curr Eye Res. 2006 Feb;31(2):199-213
Ermakov I, Sharifzadeh M, Ermakova M, Gellermann W. Resonance raman detection of carotenoid antioxidants in living human tissue. J. Biomed Optics 064028-18 Nov/Dec 2005 Vol.10_6