I wrote an article not to long ago on the benefits of antioxidants. Here I would like to expand on one of them. The benefits of Lutein are numerous to the human body, however Lutein is not prevalent the western worlds diet. Most Americans only get about 1 - 2 mg daily. That is bad considering that research indicates that there are a lot of benefits that can be reaped with 6 - 10 mg per day. Lutein along with its molecule zeaxanthin is part of the carotenoid family, and according to the ongoing research is proving to be an important and necessary part of staying healthy. Foods that contain Lutein can be easily incorporated into our diets by increasing the consumption of dark green leafy vegetable. Lutein can also be found in highly pigmented foods such as egg yolks and corn.

Why is it so important you might ask. Well according to different research studies, Lutein along with zeaxanthin is believe to reduce the risk of age related macular degeneration, cataracts, and retinitis pigmentosa. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in older Americans. One in eight Americans over the age of 60 have this disease. Large amounts of Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in the macular of the eye. Researchers believe that it fortifies the macular which is responsible for filtering out the blue wavelength light that comes from indoor lighting and sunlight. This filtration reduces the oxidation of retinal cell therefore protecting the eye. One study even suggest that it can reverse the damage caused by this disease. Even though results from a 10 year study release in 2008 on the effects of Lutein /zeaxanthin and vitamin E in preventing cataract formation was found to be lacking in reliable data, research did conclude that higher intake was associated with decreased risk. In another 12 month study using the Lutein supplement OcuPower patients experience significant improvements in glare recovery, contrast sensitivity, and visual acuity. However, most researchers suggest obtaining antioxidants from raw foods have increased benefits versus supplements. As far as retinitis pigmentosa the jury is still out. The Dietary Supplement Bureau said that 3.6 billion dollars could be saved over a 5 year period if older Americans would supplement their diet with Lutein in dependency issues alone. The benefits of Lutein are not just for the eyes, but the skin can benefit as well.

Research suggest that 10mg of Lutein can also protect the skin from the effects of blue wavelength light Skin is the largest organ in the body, and it is the most organ vulnerable to the effects of the environment. Furthermore, all of us are on a journey to reverse the aging process and reduce wrinkles. Studies have shown that with increased consumption there is an increase in skin hydration, elasticity, and skin lipid content. That is information for me want my spinach.

Researchers for the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles published an article known as "The Los Angeles Atherosclerosis Study" in the journal Circulation documenting its finding on the benefits of Lutein on blood vessels. Atherosclerosis is caused by the oxidation of low density proteins which damages the cells lining the artery walls. When this occurs the immune systems sends monocytes and clotting proteins to devour damaged cells. This area then builds up plague and cardiovascular disease ensues. In a nutshell, the lower the serum Lutein the thicker the artery wall.

Lutein is also thought to ward off breast cancer due to the high amounts found in the breast milk and lactation. Could it play an important role in pregnancy. It is also present in umbilical cord blood which leads researchers to believe that it is passed to the baby.

Food that are high in Lutein include green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, mustard greens, turnip green, collards, and romaine lettuce. It can also be found in green peas, green beans, and broccoli. Fruits such as papayas and oranges provide Lutein as well as vitamin C. Another source is eggs and corn. One cup of cooked kale provides 44mg and one cup of cooked spinach contains 26mg of Lutein. One cup of broccoli yields only 3mg. I hope this article will shed some light on how important this antioxidant is, and to illustrate how ones diet impacts ones health.