Today’s We Feed You nutrition instalment is brought to you by lutein. Along with zeaxanthin, it’s a dietary carotenoid pigment found in high concentrations in the macula area of our eyes.
How does lutein work and what does it do? Lutein acts as an antioxidant in our eye, helping to reduce the oxidative stress and damage that occurs when we absorb harmful UV light. For this reason, it’s known to reduce our risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
While there is no standard dietary guideline on how much lutein we need each day, the Australian Macular Degeneration Foundation suggest 6 mg as a good target. Where do you find it? Think fruits and veggies and think colour. The best food sources of lutein are green leafies like kale, spinach and parsley, watercress, peas, pumpkins, corn, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. In fact, ½ cup of spinach or kale provides over 11mg of lutein!High heat and long cooking times can reduce the lutein content of foods, so try to include plenty of sources in your diet, and make some of them raw dishes like flavour packed salads with extra virgin olive or other quality oil based dressings. Not only do dressings make veggies more delicious, they also help facilitate absorption of lutein into the body, as it is a fat-soluble vitamin. Pretty cool, right?