Lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients found in eggs, spinach, and other leafy green vegetables may protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of blindness among the elderly.
The study involved 4,519 people aged 60 to 80 who were questioned about their dietary habits for a period of six years.
Participants who ate the most foods containing lutein and zeaxanthin (those in the top fifth) had a 35 percent lower risk of developing AMD than those who ate the least (in the bottom fifth).
The nutrients may protect against the condition by helping your eyes to filter dangerous short-wavelength light, and warding off other potentially damaging effects to the center of your eye’s retina (the macula).
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids, which are responsible for the yellow color in many fruits and vegetables.
Over 1 million Americans, particularly those older than 65, have AMD.
Archives of Ophthalmology September 2007, Vol. 125 No. 9
For reasons scientists have yet to pinpoint, parts of your retina and macula become diseased. As AMD progresses, tiny, fragile blood vessels that leak blood and fluid begin to develop in your retina, causing further damage.
However, there is pigment in your macula that seems to act as a blue-light filter to protect your macular region against oxidation by light. In addition, this macular pigment can scavenge free radicals.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are the predominant pigments in this area, and numerous studies have found that consuming foods rich in these nutrients can significantly reduce your risk of AMD (and non-Hodgkin lymphoma).
How to Get Plenty of Lutein and Zeaxanthin in Your Diet
Foods considered good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include:
- Leafy greens like spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, and romaine lettuce
- Garden peas and Brussels sprouts
You might have guessed it if you have been reading this newsletter for awhile, but the absolute key to making sure you receive the benefits of the nutrients in these foods is to make sure you consume them RAW. Once you heat spinach or eggs the lutein and zeaxanthin become damaged -- and they will not perform as well in preventing degeneration of your macula.
Additionally, the accessory micronutrients in the foods that enhance their action will also be damaged. And last but not least, one of the most important and overlooked elements in raw food, biophotons, will be virtually eliminated, thus destroying much of the vitality of the food.
I was the keynote speaker at a BioEnergy Conference in Orlando a few weeks ago.
It was one of the best medical conferences I have been to in a long time, and I was really surprised to find that the majority of the speakers were referencing biophotons in their lectures. I believe understanding the physics of biophotons will greatly help advance the science of health.
So one of the absolute best ways to take advantage of these powerhouse nutrients is by eating RAW egg yolks. There is about 0.25 mg each of lutein and zeaxanthin in one egg yolk, and it’s in a highly absorbable, nearly ideal, form.
When you eat eggs raw, finding a high-quality source is important, so please read through my past advice on Knowing What to Look for and Where to Find Healthy Eggs to get up to speed.
It is also important to note that lutein is an oil-soluble nutrient, so if you eat the above vegetables without some oil or butter your body can't absorb the lutein. Adding a little bit of fat (olive oil, coconut oil, or butter, depending on your nutritional type) will maximize your lutein absorption.
While adding foods rich in these beneficial nutrients to your diet is certainly a wise choice, be sure you are only adding the foods that are right for your nutritional type.
Even spinach, which most would consider a “health food,” is not appropriate for everyone.
To get the most bang for your buck when it comes to nutrition, you really need to take into account your individual biochemistry, and then eat the specific foods that make you thrive.