How Lutein-Rich Foods Impact Vision

Protecting your eyes is just a carrot – or leafy green – away.

By Karin Hermoni
The benefits of carrots to eye health are attributed to an important pro-vitamin A carotenoid: beta carotene, an orange pigment in carrots. Emerging evidence points to the importance of another carotenoid to eye health, called lutein. Lutein and its isomer zeaxanthin are yellow pigments that are part of the xanthophyl carotenoid family, and are abundant in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, and in lesser quantities in corn and egg yolks. The human body does not synthesize carotenoids, which is one of the reasons why green vegetables are essential to good nutrition.
In plants, lutein and zeaxanthin help absorb excess light energy, thus preventing damage to the plants. Particularly, these carotenoids protect the plant from high-energy light rays, called blue light, and the oxidative damage that is associated with exposure to excess light. Interestingly, these antioxidant carotenoids have a somewhat similar role in the human eye, protecting it from the harmful effects of blue light and UV rays.
Carotenoids are a group of pigments that are known antioxidants and have been found to have beneficial effects on many processes in our body, contributing to anything from heart health to more resilient skin cells. What differentiates lutein and zeaxanthin is their high concentration in human eyes. In fact, their concentration in the macula is over 1,000-fold more than their concentration in the plasma. This phenomena must happen for a reason…
Indeed, researchers found that lutein protects the eye not only due to its light screening ability, but also as a result of its antioxidant properties. It reduces oxidative damage by directly fighting the dangerous reactive oxygen species, and by enhancing the antioxidant defense mechanism of the macular cells, allowing our eyes to better cope with the oxidative challenges……..
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Source: US News- Health