Lutein & Zeaxanthin Content of Foods

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Food NameLutein & Zeaxanthin
Butter, salted0
Butter, whipped, with salt0
Butter oil, anhydrous0
Cheese, blue0
Cheese, brick0
Cheese, brie0
Cheese, camembert0
Cheese, cheddar0
Cheese, colby0
Cheese, cottage, creamed, large or small curd0
Cheese, cottage, creamed, with fruit0
Cheese, cottage, nonfat, uncreamed, dry, large or small curd0
Cheese, cottage, lowfat, 2% milkfat0
Cheese, cottage, lowfat, 1% milkfat0
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  • Abbreviations: g = gram, mg = milligram, mcg = microgram, kcal = kilocalorie, kJ = kilojoule.






Lutein

Lutein is a xanthophyll and one of 600 known naturally occurring carotenoids. Lutein is synthesized only by plants and like other xanthophylls is found in high quantities in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. In green plants, xanthophylls act to modulate light energy and serve as non-photochemical quenching agents to deal with triplet chlorophyll (an excited form of chlorophyll), which is overproduced at very high light levels, during photosynthesis.

Lutein is obtained by animals directly or indirectly, from plants. Lutein is apparently employed by animals as an antioxidant and for blue light absorption. Lutein is found in egg yolks and animal fats. In addition to coloring yolks, lutein causes the yellow color of chicken skin and fat, and is used in chicken feed for this purpose. The human retina accumulates lutein and zeaxanthin. The latter predominates at the macula lutea while lutein predominates elsewhere in the retina. There, it may serve as a photoprotectant for retina from the damaging effects of free radicals produced by blue light.

Lutein and eye diseases

Lutein was found to be concentrated in the macula, a small area of the retina responsible for central vision. The hypothesis for the natural concentration is that lutein helps keep the eyes safe from oxidative stress and the high-energy photons of blue light. Various research studies have shown that a direct relationship exists between lutein intake and pigmentation in the eye.

There is also epidemiological evidence that increasing lutein and zeaxanthin intake lowers the risk of cataract development. Consumption of more than 2.4 mg of lutein/zeaxanthin daily from foods and supplements was significantly correlated with reduced incidence of nuclear lens opacities, as revealed from data collected during a 13- to 15-year period in the Nutrition and Vision Project.

Lutein in diet

Lutein is a natural part of human diet when fruits and vegetables are consumed. For individuals lacking sufficient lutein intake, lutein-fortified foods are available, or in the case of elderly people with a poorly absorbing digestive system, a sublingual spray is available. As early as 1996, lutein has been incorporated into dietary supplements. While no recommended daily allowance currently exists for lutein as for other nutrients, positive effects have been seen at dietary intake levels of 6–10 mg/day. The only definitive side effect of excess lutein consumption is bronzing of the skin (carotenodermia).

Zeaxanthin

Zeaxanthin is one of the most common carotenoid alcohols found in nature. It is important in the xanthophyll cycle. Synthesized in plants and some micro-organisms, it is the pigment that gives paprika (made from bell peppers), corn, saffron, wolfberries, and many other plants and microbes their characteristic color.

Lutein and zeaxanthin have identical chemical formulas and are isomers, but they are not stereoisomers. The only difference between them is in the location of the double bond in one of the end rings.

Zeaxanthin is one of the most common carotenoid alcohols found in nature. It is the pigment that gives paprika (made from bell peppers), corn, saffron, wolfberries, and many other plants their characteristic color. Spirulina is also a rich source and can serve as a dietary supplement. Zeaxanthin breaks down to form picrocrocin and safranal, which are responsible for the taste and aroma of saffron.

Food Sources of Lutein and Zeaxanthin

List of foods highest in lutein and zeaxanthin content. Lutein and zeaxanthin content is in mcg per 100 g of food weight.



Lutein + Zeaxanthin (µg)
Foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin (100 g)

19697
Kale, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

19697
Kale, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

18944
Spices, paprika

18246
Kale, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

18246
Kale, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

15690
Spinach, frozen, chopped or leaf, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

15690
Spinach, frozen, chopped or leaf, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

14720
Sweet potato leaves, raw

13610
Dandelion greens, raw

13157
Spices, pepper, red or cayenne

12825
Turnip greens, raw

12651
Spinach, frozen, chopped or leaf, unprepared

12500
Cress, garden, raw

12198
Spinach, raw

11915
Turnip greens, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

11915
Turnip greens, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

11449
Sweet potato leaves, cooked, steamed, without salt

11449
Sweet potato leaves, cooked, steamed, with salt

11308
Spinach, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

11308
Spinach, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

11015
Chard, swiss, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

11015
Chard, swiss, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

11000
Chard, swiss, raw

10898
Collards, frozen, chopped, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

10898
Collards, frozen, chopped, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

10575
Spinach, canned, regular pack, drained solids

10400
Mustard greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

10300
Chicory greens, raw

9900
Mustard greens, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt


Lutein + Zeaxanthin (µg)
Foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin (100 g)

9532
Turnip greens and turnips, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

9532
Turnip greens and turnips, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

9158
Dandelion greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

8832
Radicchio, raw

8440
Turnip greens, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

8440
Turnip greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

8402
Cress, garden, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

8402
Cress, garden, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

8198
Kale, raw

6672
Mustard greens, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

6672
Mustard greens, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

6591
Turnip greens, canned, no salt added

6197
Collards, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

6197
Collards, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

6162
Lambsquarters, steamed (Northern Plains Indians)

5799
Peppers, sweet, red, freeze-dried

5767
Watercress, raw

5650
Basil, fresh

5561
Parsley, fresh

5494
Peppers, hot chile, sun-dried

5199
Peppers, sweet, green, freeze-dried

5076
Celery flakes, dried

4505
Babyfood, vegetables, spinach, creamed, strained

4323
Collards, raw

4178
Stinging Nettles, blanched (Northern Plains Indians)

3834
Chrysanthemum, garland, raw

3730
Mustard greens, raw

3616
Lambsquarters, raw (Northern Plains Indians)

3555
Arugula, raw

3527
Babyfood, vegetables, squash, junior

3527
Babyfood, vegetables, squash, strained


Lutein + Zeaxanthin (µg)
Foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin (100 g)

3487
Spaghetti, spinach, dry

3467
Chrysanthemum, garland, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

3467
Chrysanthemum, garland, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

3398
Dandelion greens, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

3249
Spinach souffle

2638
Balsam-pear (bitter gourd), leafy tips, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

2638
Balsam-pear (bitter gourd), leafy tips, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

2593
Peas, green, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

2593
Peas, green, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

2477
Peas, green, raw

2428
Spices, coriander leaf, dried

2428
Spices, parsley, dried

2400
Peas, green, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

2400
Peas, green, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

2352
Peas, green, frozen, unprepared

2312
Lettuce, cos or romaine, raw

2308
Squash, summer, scallop, raw

2249
Squash, summer, all varieties, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

2249
Squash, summer, all varieties, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

2232
Noodles, egg, spinach, cooked, enriched

2125
Squash, summer, zucchini, includes skin, raw

2125
Squash, summer, all varieties, raw

2102
Squash, summer, zucchini, includes skin, frozen, unprepared

2001
Rose Hips, wild (Northern Plains Indians)

1932
Taro leaves, raw

1900
Leeks, (bulb and lower leaf-portion), raw

1895
Spices, sage, ground

1895
Spices, thyme, dried

1895
Spices, marjoram, dried

1895
Spices, oregano, dried

1877
Squash, summer, zucchini, includes skin, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt


Lutein + Zeaxanthin (µg)
Foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin (100 g)

1877
Squash, summer, zucchini, includes skin, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

1857
Lambsquarters, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

1857
Lambs quarters, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

1819
Beet greens, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

1819
Beet greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

1811
Beans, fava, in pod, raw

1805
Babyfood, peas, dices, toddler

1762
Snacks, popcorn, microwave, low fat

1747
Grape leaves, raw

1747
Pokeberry shoots, (poke), cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

1747
Pumpkin leaves, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

1747
Drumstick leaves, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

1747
Jute, potherb, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

1747
Drumstick leaves, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

1747
Peas, green, canned, regular pack, solids and liquids

1747
Jute, potherb, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

1747
Pumpkin leaves, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

1747
Pokeberry shoots, (poke), cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

1730
Lettuce, green leaf, raw

1724
Lettuce, red leaf, raw

1683
Broccoli raab, cooked

1650
Peas, green, canned, no salt added, solids and liquids

1628
Cornmeal, degermed, unenriched, yellow

1628
Cornmeal, degermed, enriched, yellow

1628
Corn flour, masa, enriched, yellow

1590
Brussels sprouts, raw

1541
Brussels sprouts, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

1541
Brussels sprouts, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

1538
Peas and carrots, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt

1538
Peas and carrots, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt

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