Lutein and Zeaxanthin – Two major reasons to avoid ordering egg white only omelette
As far as animal foods are concerned, eggs are one of the best choices for our brain. Not only they are a powerful source of omega 3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins and minerals, but the yolks also contain Lutein and Zeaxanthin. These disease fighting antioxidants have several health benefits.
Firstly, they may help improve or reduce the progression of many eye conditions. Secondly, they can enhance the appearance of the skin tone, and protect it against sun damage.1 Thirdly, and most importantly, they can boost the brain’s processing speed.2
The basic facts about Lutein
Lutein belongs to the carotenoids group, which makes the bright orange, red, and yellow color of certain foods. It is related to beta-carotene and vitamin A. In most cases people try to increase their lutein intake, because of the eye related benefits. 3
If you happen to do a research on Lutein, you can most definitely find another carotenoid the so called Zeaxanthin. (Just like you did here.) Since they are very similar, they are often often categorized as one group. 4
Speed up your brain with carotenoids
The eye protecting benefits of carotenoids are probably not a surprising new information. However, less well-known is that they can also protect and even speed up the brain.
In the University of Georgia, during a clinical trial researchers examined the cognitive performance of 69 young healthy students. There were two groups and one of them received a Lutein and Zeaxanthin supplement for 4 months, while the others had a placebo. Those who took the real supplement experienced a 20% boost in their visual processing speed.
This skill is extremely important, since it determines how fast we take information, make sense of it, and begin to respond. Enhancing your visual processing can result in better reading speed, athletic performance, and executive function. 5
Dietary sources of Lutein and Zeaxanthin
These carotenoids are found at high levels in the following foods:
- Egg yolks
- Pumpkin 6
Fat is not always a bad thing
As you can see dark leafy greens are a great source of these valuable carotenoids. However, these nutrients require fat to be piggybacked into the body’s circulation. This is actually so crucial that if you eat a salad without fat, your body probably won’t absorb them at all. 7
Fortunately you can easily avoid this. Simply add a couple of eggs to your salad, or a splash of extra virgin olive oil. Read my previous post in case you want to know how to find the best EVOO for your brain.