Try 5 Vision-Preserving Recipes and Save Your Sight with Lutein

Want to keep your vision sharp, and maybe even improve it? Fill up on foods with lutein in them.

December 9, 2009

Spinach is full of eye-healthy lutein.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—You may have seen vitamin or supplements with lutein on the label, but it's easy to incorporate lutein-rich foods into your diet. Lutein is a type of antioxidant known as a carotenoid. It functions together with zeaxanthin, another carotenoid that's found in the same foods as lutein. Both of these phytochemicals can protect your eyes from age-related damage, according to Harvard researchers. The two nutrients appear to accumulate in your eyes' retinas, where they're able to absorb the type of light rays that can cause damage.


Just 1½ daily servings of foods with lutein and zeaxanthin in them have been shown to lower the risk of one form of vision loss called age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by 50 percent. Research at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston also showed that a high daily intake of lutein and zeaxanthin through food sources cut AMD risk. Also, seven daily servings can reduce the risk of cataracts by 18 percent. The average American consumes about 2 milligrams (mg) of lutein through food, but studies show that we need 6 to 10 mg per day—a great reason to take a closer look at your daily lutein intake. If you haven't given it much thought before now, you may still be able to improve you vision. In another study at North Chicago, Illinois' Department of Veterans' Affairs Medical Center Eye Clinic, 90 people with AMD who consumed 10 mg of lutein daily for a year saw vision improvements of one full line on a vision chart.

And these carotenoids don't just provide vision-protecting benefits. They may also help prevent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) in men. Researchers analyzed the dietary habits of 857 people who had participated in a study at the National Cancer Institute. What they found was that those who consumed three servings of lutein- and zeaxanthin-rich vegetables daily were 46 percent less likely to develop NHL than the participants who ate less of these foods.

Good food sources of lutein (and zeaxanthin) include kale, collard greens, spinach, romaine lettuce, corn, peas, leeks, zucchini, broccoli, and eggs. Read on and try these recipes from the Rodale Recipe Finder and boost your intake of these vision-preserving carotenoids in a delicious way.

#1: Spinach Omelet. Breakfast is a prime time to combine lutein-rich eggs and greens. A classic spinach omelet is a great way to start the day, but can also serve as a light lunch or dinner, while a
Baked Eggs Florentine and Cajun Eggs and Greens would both make great brunch entrées.

#2: Caesar Salad. Great news for fans of this classic salad—romaine lettuce is a good source of lutein. Try this lightened-up version, or make a protein-packed, satisfying Chicken Caesar Salad.

#3: Corn and Zucchini Cakes. Enjoy the benefits of lutein in side dishes like corn and zucchini cakes, or a sauté of warm greens.

#4: South-of-the-Border Frittata. Frittatas make delicious, nutritious brunch or dinner entrées. This recipe boosts the lutein content with corn. Alternatively, try frittatas with lutein-rich peas or greens, such as this Sweet Potato and Pea Frittata or a Potato, Bacon, and Greens Frittata.

#5: Creamy Spinach Soup. Freezer staples like frozen chopped spinach and frozen peas make this comforting soup a no-fuss option. For a hearty soup that's ready in under 30 minutes, try this recipe for a
Creamy Potato, Kale, and Leek Soup.