(NaturalNews) Lutein and Zeaxanthin are a group of carotenoids that are responsible for giving plants their yellow and red-orange pigment. In humans, the two substances play important roles in vision, eye pigmentation, and may even help prevent atherosclerosis and cancer, according to some studies.
Protection against blindness and oxidative stress
The two carotenoids are concentrated in the macula, which is a part of the retina that functions as a natural sunblock, absorbing UV and blue light. A study published in 2007 has shown that the macula of the eye is less likely to degenerate as people age, if they consume a lutein and zeaxanthin rich diet. Macular degeneration is a major cause of blindness among adults, affecting no fewer than 1.2 million Americans.
A 15-year long survey, conducted for the Nutrition and Vision Project, found that the consumption of more than 2.4 mg of lutein and zeaxanthin each day significantly decreases the risk of cataract development. Additional evidence suggests that lutein and zeaxanthin can also improve overall visual performance and reduce light sensitivity.
Like all carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin possess powerful antioxidant properties and can protect all bodily cells against the damaging effects of free radicals, as well as boost immunity. One study showed that lutein and zeaxanthin may be effective against non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in men.
Food sources of lutein and zeaxanthin
Research evidence suggests that lutein and zeaxanthin are more easily absorbed from natural sources than from supplements and fortified foods. The two carotenoids abound in fresh vegetables and eggs, while a considerable amount is lost during high temperature cooking.
People often wonder: do carrots help your eyesight? Spinach, kale, turnip greens, romaine lettuce, zucchini, garden peas, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens are excellent sources of lutein, but with lesser amounts available from carrots, pistachios, hard boiled eggs and kiwifruit. Goji berries, spirulina, saffron and paprika are particularly high in zeaxanthin.
Food for eye health - An easy eye healthy recipe
Kale chips are a staple of the raw food diet, not just because they're highly nutritious, but also because they're easy to make and are a kid's favorite. Preparation takes only a few minutes: simply tear small pieces of kale off the stem with your hands, and sprinkle them with a bit of salt. If you don't have a dehydrator, set your oven to the lowest temperature, lay the kale pieces on a tray, and allow them to dehydrate for at least two hours.
Next, add one tablespoon of coconut oil, pepper, paprika and other spices of your choice (a bit of diced garlic also works well with kale) in a bowl, and drop the kale pieces in to coat them, adding more of the coconut oil and spices if necessary.
Kale chips can be consumed on their own or in combination with sour dips.
About the author: A science enthusiast with a keen interest in health nutrition, Antonia has been intensely researching various dieting routines for several years now, weighing their highs and their lows, to bring readers the most interesting info and news in the field. While she is very excited about a high raw diet, she likes to keep a fair and balanced approach towards non-raw methods of food preparation as well.