August 14, 2006
Plant Pigments Slow Eye Aging

The risk of the eye disease age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is lower for women who eat vegetables high in zeaxanthin and lutein.

Previous studies have suggested a potential link between AMD and lutein and zeaxanthin, plant pigments known as carotenoids and found in leafy green vegetables, corn, egg yolks, squash, broccoli and peas. These compounds may reduce the risk of AMD by absorbing blue light that could damage the macula, by preventing free radicals from damaging eye cells and by strengthening eye cell membranes. Suzen M. Moeller, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison, and colleagues with the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study (CAREDS) Research Study Group, assessed the effects of dietary lutein plus zeaxanthin in 1,787 women ages 50 to 79 years in Iowa, Wisconsin and Oregon. The women with the highest and lowest dietary intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin in the Women's Health Initiative, a large study of postmenopausal women that began between 1994 and 1998, were recruited to participate in CAREDS. At the beginning of the study, participants filled out a questionnaire to evaluate what their diets were like 15 years before the beginning of the study. Blood samples were taken to assess levels of carotenoids and color photographs of the retina were used to determine the presence and progression of AMD. A higher intake of lutein plus zeaxanthin was associated with a lower risk of intermediate-stage AMD in women younger than age 75 years who had a stable intake of the carotenoids over the 15-year period and did not have previous AMD or a chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or hypertension, that might alter their dietary habits. However, no significant difference was observed in the overall group of women or when comparing lutein and zeaxanthin levels in the blood to AMD occurrence. There was a weak association between dietary lutein plus zeaxanthin and advanced-stage AMD in all the women and in women younger than age 75 years.

Eat more kale. Per half cup kale is highest with 10 mg lutein and then collard greens with 7.7 mg and spinach with 3.3 mg.

Update: Eggs have less lutein but much more bioavailable lutein.

A carotenoid, lutein is found in green vegetables, especially spinach, as well as kale and broccoli. But egg yolks, although they contain significantly less lutein than spinach, are a much more bioavailable source whose consumption increases lutein concentrations in the blood many-fold higher than spinach.

Eat eggs for your eyes.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2006 August 14 11:28 PM  Aging Diet Eye Studies


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