Lutein and zeaxanthin are two of the most abundant carotenoids found in North America. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, carotenoids are any class of yellow to red pigments found especially in fruits and vegetables. A daily dose of lutein and zeaxanthin has not been established. Lutein is the dominant component found in the retina of the eye.
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According to the American Optometric Association, both lutein and zeaxanthin are of great benefit to eye health. Along with helping to prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), they can also improve vision in those already afflicted with this disease; they decrease the risk of contracting cataracts too, since both of these carotenoids protect and maintain healthy cells in the eye. Other health benefits are protection of your heart and brain, and they assist the body in combating arthritis as well. Both nutrients are also available in supplement form.
There are a variety of carbohydrates available in which one can get a fair amount of lutein and zeaxanthin. Cereals made with corn are high in lutein and zeaxanthin. Pastas that are made from spinach, corn and egg yolks (which have the highest content of lutein) are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. Corn tortillas and delicious corn bread are also tasty favourites.
Vegetables are by far the greatest source of lutein and zeaxanthin. Leafy greens such as romaine, spinach, swiss chard, turnip greens, kale, collard greens, watercress and parsley top the content list. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation recommends that all these vegetables be prepared and eaten raw, or lightly steamed with no salt. Other vegetables rich in these two supplements are peppers, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, corn, beans, peas and okra.
There are many fruits that are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. Melons, with cantaloupe in the lead, peaches, tangerines, oranges, papayas, apricots and mangoes are among the highest in content. Have a bowl of these fruits cut up and ready in your refrigerator for quick snacking. These fruits, too, are best consumed raw for maximum value.
Snack Foods and Spices
You can easily store many snack foods in your refrigerator and pantry. Tortilla chips with salsa made from onions, tomatoes, peppers and cilantro is a great favourite. Corn chips are a healthy snack food rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. The much-beloved and low-calorie popcorn is a great snack rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. Some popular spices containing these two supplements are basil, marjoram, oregano and thyme.
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