Fortifying foods with lutein – found in products such as dark green vegetables – may help prevent Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Ottawa – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the Guelph Food Research Centre (GFRC) are looking into ways to develop lutein-rich wholegrain food products.
Lutein is a nutrient necessary for eye and skin health, but Canadians don’t get enough of it. Adding the nutrient to products such as muffins or bread could go a long way in ensuring they obtain an adequate amount, says the AAFC.
The researchers are particularly interested in the role lutein plays in preventing and slowing the onset of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a major cause of blindness in the elderly.
The AAFC says more than two million people over the age of 50 suffer from AMD, for which there is no cure.
The best strategy is prevention and Canadians can achieve this by eating more lutein-rich foods, says Dr. Elsayed Abdelaal, who is leading the four-year research project. These products would have the additional benefits of being rich in fibre and antioxidants.
Lutein is found in dark green vegetables, such as spinach and kale, and in egg yolks. It’s also found in grains such as corn and wheat, although lutein degrades significantly when baked and processed.
That is why the research project is looking at developing grains with higher lutein content, the process of degradation and how to prevent it, and enhancing the stability of lutein in a food product to deliver health benefits.