How is Lutein and Zeaxanthin Secrets Healthy? The Best Secrets
When you think of great health, do you include your eyes?
Well... do you?
...since even the healthiest among us still need glasses.
Even so, there are certain eye conditions that you can help prevent with a healthy diet.
This is particularly important to consider as we age.
Did you know that macular degeneration leads to more vision loss than glaucoma and cataracts combined?
Here’s what we found…
Currently, more than 10 million people in the United States alone are faced with central vision loss from macular degeneration.
In today's article, we’re going to get in front of this problem by exploring two specific carotenoids known to help.
How do they work?
How do we get them?
Read on to discover all of the best behind lutein and zeaxanthin secrets.
Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Macular Degeneration
We know that a good diet includes a lot of color, and that’s what lutein and zeaxanthin provide.
As carotenoids, these two are what place certain foods on the color spectrum ranging from yellow to red.
While antioxidants are wonderful for us, they first exist to encourage the health of the plants we eat.
The pigmented phytonutrients protect plants from sun damage and help them absorb light in healthy quantities.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are two of approximately 700 carotenoids with this protective antioxidant action.
So with all of those different carotenoids lurking in plants, what makes them so special?
For starters, there are only about 40-60 different carotenoids available in plants that we can actually eat. And the typical Western diet narrows that figure down even further.
The real secret, however, is where lutein and zeaxanthin land in our bodies.
When we have good amounts of them, quantities end up in our retinas as macular pigments.
You have something called a macula lutea as part of your retina. The pigment is what makes it yellowish in color, a hue typical for anywhere carotenoids are present.
This area is also responsible for your central vision, which is what you see when you look directly forward.
As we touched upon at the start, macular degeneration, also known as AMD, affects central vision, as well as color perception.
With age in particular, the macular tissues can stop receiving the nutritional support and oxygen required for healthy function.
Therefore, a healthy lutea and associated components (namely, the fovea) are crucial for central sight.
Two things they require for this are lutein and zeaxanthin.
Lutein is doubly important, as it is used to make yet another carotenoid, meso-zeaxanthin.
Altogether, they help protect this delicate part of the eye from light exposure and oxidative stress, which causes degeneration.
The big one is smoking.
In the end, lutein and zeaxanthin will give you a higher rate of success if you stop smoking now.
The oxidative damage from the thousands of chemicals present in cigarettes is too much for antioxidants to keep up with.
The other two lifestyle factors are weight and meat consumption.
However, fish is likely not part of the recommendation to reduce meat intake when preventing AMD.
Across multiple reports, it seems to pertain mostly to red meat.
Then, we have factors beyond our total control. Of course, age is the primary risk factor, with cases increasing steadily after the age of 55.
They spiral even further upward at age 75, where two in 10 people may suffer AMD.
Another non-lifestyle cause is genetic. Today, we suspect that genetics aren’t as weighty as they sound. Knowledge of your genetics does, however, give you an upper hand.
That is, people who know about their risk are more likely to actually stick to those preventative measures.
Therefore, if your elders deal with AMD, you can find your overall risk decreasing through stricter attention to lifestyle factors.
Avoid red meat, never smoke, and stick to a diet that supports a healthy weight.
Another area those with genetic predispositions want to be aware of is medication, as certain kinds may elevate your AMD risk.
Best Dietary Sources of Lutein and Zeaxanthin
So... the question emerges.
If lutein and zeaxanthin are that healthy for the eyes, how should we get it?
Naturally, there are a whole slew of supplements on the market that tout major eye support.
According to Consumer Lab, an independent testing organization, some of these are rather good.
However, it can be difficult to spot these among the hundreds you find online.
Consumer Labs found that many were not supplying the proper effective dosage.
Worse yet, some were offering less lutein (up to 90% less!) than stated on the package.
The truth is that you don’t need a supplement if you eat a proper diet.
There are only so many nutrients your body can absorb in a go, so doubling up on a mega-dose isn’t the answer.
Add to that the fact that there isn’t currently a daily amount recommended.
Here are eight foods to eat if you want natural, healthy quantities of lutein and zeaxanthin.
No extra cash spent on supplements necessary.
A few decades ago, we were all about that egg white omelet. As it turns out, that’s not the best move for your eyes.
The yolk of the egg is among our very biggest sources of these carotenoids.
But what about cholesterol?
This study set out to prove that you can eat eggs for the eyes without upping your LDL and triglycerides. Older adults ate an egg per day for five weeks.
At the end, all of them had higher lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations, and there was no ill effect on cholesterol.
One egg per day, including that yolk, isn’t just safe, but beneficial for the eyes.
2. Red Grapes
An animal study finds that red grapes are a great food to protect the retinas.
This is due to lutein and zeaxanthin, but also the notorious resveratrol. This potent antioxidant partners up for AMD prevention, but also can reduce chances of getting glaucoma or cataracts.
Perhaps because we consider it a little exotic, kiwi fruits don’t get the love they should.
After all, they’re higher in vitamin C than oranges.
They’re also typically smaller, meaning you don’t have to eat as much.
Tests reveal that kiwi has as much lutein and zeaxanthin as grapes and other fruits and vegetables.
Survival can be tough for lettuces and greens. Insects, hot sun, and other environmental factors can eat away at a young leaf.
Fortunately, many make it thanks in part to lutein and zeaxanthin.
All of that lutein doesn’t go straight to the eyes. It’s good for your brain, too.
Take this study examining adults who eat more kale and spinach. It confirms that the levels of lutein they eat may improve their cognitive function.
Across multiple sources, there are some disagreements about which bell peppers are best for lutein.
This is true even though some, like green or yellow, may have more carotenoids in general.
One of the secrets around getting lutein from peppers is to not cook them so thoroughly. A gentle sauté won’t destroy too many compounds, while eating them raw and organic is always best.
Don’t apply that to all foods, though. Some sources indicate that cooking your greens doesn’t really affect lutein content.
6. Pumpkin .
Pumpkins additionally contain beta carotene, which we convert to vitamin A. This is another good carotenoid for eye health.
The same goes for a number of other squash, too.
I still love to find new ways to use pumpkin outside of holiday treats that aren’t so healthy.
Did your parents ever tell you that carrots were good for the eyes?
They were right, but you probably thought so because they’re another veggie famous for containing beta carotene.
The truth is that lutein (and its mate, zeaxanthin) are more powerful and can actually boost beta carotene’s impact.
One bowl of this creamy carrot tomato soup eliminates the need for a day’s supplementation.
When you compare them to other fruits, peaches often can’t compete with vitamin content. The exception here is definitely lutein and zeaxanthin, of which peaches - Shop now at Amazon.com - are among the best.
They’re also low in calories, and high in fiber and water. Usually, this is great, but not when we’re talking lutein, which is where this next tip comes in handy.
BONUS TIP for lutein and zeaxanthin secrets : Increase your lutein absorption with fat.
When you create a meal or snack specifically for eye benefits, check out what else you’re eating. Adding in a ton of extra fiber can decrease absorption, but fat does the opposite.
This may be one reason why eggs are so effective on their own. Half of their calories come from fat.
Therefore, pair up your fruit and vegetable sources with some avocado, nut butter - Shop now at Amazon.com, or coconut oil.
More Essential Ways to Protect Precious Eyesight
You can fill up on as many eggs, peaches, greens, and red grapes as you like. Yet this is no guarantee that you won’t encounter future problems.
In addition to diet and never smoking, there are other measures you can take to extend eye health with lutein and zeaxanthin secrets.
That about wraps it up today for lutein and zeaxanthin secrets.
One day, we may know and truly accept that high rates of macular degeneration aren’t all about age.
We live lifestyles and eat processed foods which deprive of us essential phytonutrients like carotenoids.
The following factors hurt our eyes, too.
The two carotenoids we depend on most for good vision are lutein and zeaxanthin.
Because dietary habits factor into our risk, it’s best to get these nutrients from food, not supplements.
Most of these foods are fruits and vegetables, like leafy greens, grapes, pumpkins, and kiwis.
However, eggs have a lot as well, proving themselves a healthy addition to any diet that allows animal products. .
Combining food with avoidance of the above list of causes is your best bet, in my opinion.
But I still want to know what you think. Does AMD run in your family?
What are you going to do to prevent it?
Do you have any secrets for maintaining vision through diet?
Let me know in the comments, and stay tuned for more.