Lutein has long been known as apowerful nutritional agent useful for protecting vision in aging adults andprotecting against the sight-robbing condition known as macular degeneration.New research publishedin The Journal of Nutrition findsthat the carotenoid exhibits health-promoting anti-inflammatory and antioxidantbenefits that help to lower plaque forming oxidized LDL cholesterol particlesthat promote arterial hardening and heart disease.
Lutein is found in abundance indark green leafy vegetables including spinach, broccoli, kale and cabbage. Mostadults and children should include a healthy serving of these vegetables aspart of a nutritionally balanced diet or look to supplement daily tosignificantly lower heart disease risk from coronary plaque accumulation.
Lutein Accumulates in the Retina to Prevent Macular Degeneration
The study examined two groups ofguinea pigs known to exhibit similar vascular characteristics to humans. Bothgroups were fed a diet high in cholesterol-laden foods for a period of 12weeks, and half were supplemented with lutein. Carotenoids such as lutein are known to circulatein the blood and are stored by the body for future use when tissue saturationis reached. Research to date has shown how lutein accumulates in the retina to preventmacular degeneration and support vision, but little is known about how thecompound impacts cardiovascular health.
Researchers understand thatmammals with the highest levels of carotenoids circulating in their blood havethe longest lifespan. Scientists were able to provide evidence that lutein iscontinually being stored and drawn from tissue deposits as needed. The antioxidantand anti-inflammatory properties of this important carotene provides asignificant degree of protection against the formation of arterial plaque andatherosclerosis. Lutein reduces the number of small, dense oxidized LDLcholesterol particles that compromise the elastic nature of the arteries thatsupply blood to the heart.
Lutein is Concentrated in a Diet Filled with Fresh Fruits andVegetables
This is one of the first studiesto demonstrate that carotenoids such as lutein can provide health benefits tomultiple organs and should be consumed as part of a natural dietcomprising a rainbow of colors from organic vegetables and fruits. Scientistshave uncovered dozens of carotenoids and concede there are likely many more asyet unknown compounds that exist in a complete matrix of whole foods.
Interestingly, nutritionalresearchers have found that carotenoids from high quality supplements areeasier to absorb when compared to carotenes from foods that are bound to fiber.Regardless of the source, carotenoids should be part of your daily antioxidantdietary plan to prevent arterial plaque formation and lower the risk ofatherosclerosis.