The plant pigments lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants. Good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include a variety of vegetables as well as other foods. Fresh, raw foods are best when it comes to getting the most nutrition per serving. A study conducted by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2004 concluded that "There is a continuously growing body of evidence that suggests that lutein and zeaxanthin may contribute to the protection against several age-related diseases, including cataract and age-related macular degeneration as well as other diseases including dementia."
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Green, Leafy Vegetables
Eat dark green, leafy vegetables to increase the amount of lutein and zeaxanthin in your diet. The three best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin in the green leafy vegetable category are kale, spinach and collard greens. Raw kale has approximately 39000mcg of lutein per 100g serving and 22000mcg of zeaxanthin per 100g serving. Frozen and cooked kale have about half as much. Raw spinach has approximately 10200mcg of lutein per 100g serving and 331mcg of zeaxanthin per 100g serving. As with kale, fresh raw spinach has the most nutrients per serving. Raw collard greens have approximately 16300mcg of lutein per 100g serving and 270mcg of zeaxanthin per 100g serving. As with kale, raw collard greens are best. Other green, leafy vegetables that are high in lutein and zeaxanthin include turnip greens, chard, mustard greens and dandelion greens.
Other Fruits and Vegetables
Raw broccoli has around 1900mcg of lutein per 100g serving and 1000mcg of zeaxanthin per 100g serving. Fresh red peppers offer large quantities of lutein at 6800mcg per 100g serving. Orange peppers are a top source of zeaxanthin with 1600mcg per 100g serving. Canned corn has around 520mcg of zeaxanthin per 100g serving and frozen corn has 375mcg of zeaxanthin per 100g serving. Tangerines have approximately 55mcg of lutein and 112mcg of zeaxanthin per 100g serving, while orange juice has 40mcg of lutein and 80mcg of zeaxanthin per 100g serving.
Herbs and Spices
Many fresh herbs have the benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin. Fresh, raw parsley has 10,200mcg of a combination of lutein and zeaxanthin. Basil contains high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin as well as other nutrients. The lutein-zeaxanthin level in basil is 5650mcg per 100g serving. Paprika is derived from red pepper. It is commonly used to add colour to sauces, soups or meat. It is also high in lutein and zeaxanthin, with levels of both in combination to be 13,000mcg per 100g serving.
Adding marigold flowers to chicken feed produce egg yolks that are packed with lutein. The more orange an egg yolk is, the greater the amount of lutein is in it. Eggs have 2300mcg per 100g serving.
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