New studies show lutein doesn’t just benefit eye health, it boosts brain health, too
(NaturalHealth365) Lutein is a carotenoid found in dark leafy greens, and it’s well known for promoting eye health. Along with zeaxanthin, the two carotenoids are found in high concentrations within the macula lutea and macular pigment, which is the small central part of the retina that’s responsible for your detailed central vision.
Getting high levels of the two carotenoids helps to prevent age-related eye diseases, including macular degeneration and cataracts.
New studies back up the important eye health benefits of lutein, but these newer studies are finding something new – lutein also plays an essential role in your brain health. Beyond preventing age-related eye disease, this new research shows it may prevent age-related cognitive decline and boost overall brain health, as well.
Recent meta-analysis reveal the health benefits of lutein
A meta-analysis of randomized trials published by the PLoS One journal at the end of 2019 examined more closely the effects of lutein supplements on various eye health factors, such as macular pigment optical density – which is related to the amount of carotenoids zeaxanthin and carotenoids found in the central part of the retina.
Macular lutein helps filter damaging blue light and prevents oxidative damage, preventing age-related eye problems. Researchers discovered from looking at nine different trials that lutein supplementation was associated with improved visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, and higher levels of macular pigment optical density.
Researchers find lutein offers brain benefits, too
Also at the end of 2019, The Journal of Aging Research did an investigation into lutein and zeaxanthin, giving 33 participants 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin and giving 14 participants a placebo. They not only measured the macular pigment optical density to check for retinal levels of zeaxanthin and lutein, but they conducted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain both before and after the treatment.
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Among the participants who had a significant increase in macular pigment optical density as a result of supplementation, they discovered there was less decline in the prefrontal and total gray matter brain volume when compared to those who didn’t respond well to the lutein and zeaxanthin supplements.
Other studies over the past few years have also discovered that higher lutein levels are linked to more youthful neural responses, and it’s believed that lutein-rich foods and supplements may have a protective effect against age-related cognitive decline.
Lutein has been found to offer other health benefits beyond eye health and brain health. Studies have also found that:
- Combining this naturally occurring carotenoid with zeaxanthin and vitamin E improves lung function
- Diets rich in carotenoids can help to reduce excess cholesterol
- There’s a link between low carotenoid levels and prostate cancer
- The severity of congestive heart failure is worse if plasma levels of antioxidants are low
How can you get more of this carotenoid in your diet? It’s primarily found in leafy, green veggies, such as kale, collard greens and Swiss chard. It’s also in yellow – and orange-colored veggies and fruits, and egg yolks are an excellent source, too. Other foods include broccoli, avocados, cherries, raspberries, yellow and red peppers, and carrots.
So, what are you waiting for? Make healthy changes … starting today.
Sources for this article include: