Carotenoids Absorbed Better When Taken with Fat

salad vegetables high in carotenoidsA new study demonstrated that adding oil or fats to your salads and vegetables increases the body’s ability to absorb vision-boosting lutein, lycopene, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin and other carotenoids. Carotenoids are a family of nutrients that absorb blue light. They are naturally colored in the yellows and reds on the light spectrum.

The study in the Journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research showed that monounsaturated fats allowed for the best absorption of carotenoids. Carotenoids are antioxidants that are associated with reduced risk of major diseases afflicting Westerners including CV – heart disease and cardiovascular disease, cancer and macular degeneration. Another study showed that supplementing with a carotenoid in the family of lutein called zeaxanthin improved vision in elderly adults with macular degeneration.

Many natural foods are rich in carotenoids. Here are some recipe ideas:

Cooked Vegetable Carotenoid-Rich Side Dish

Steam two or three vegetables from this list — they are high in carotenoids including lutein and zeaxanthin:

  • kale
  • collards
  • turnip greens
  • spinach
  • sweet corn
  • broccoli
  • green peas
  • green beans

Drizzle first cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil on top and serve.

Salad for Eye Health

Toss carotenoid-rich salad ingredients, including:

  • romaine lettuce
  • spinach
  • carrots
  • tomatoes – high in lycopene
  • sliced hard-boiled eggs
  • sprouts

Serve with a salad dressing based on a monounsaturated fat, such as canola and olive-oil based dressings.

Eye-Friendly Fruit Salad

Cut and gently stir together orange-colored fruits such as oranges, mangoes, apricots and papayas. Serve with a yogurt-based dressing (dairy products also contain some carotenoids).

Processed foods are not on the list of foods high in carotenoids, and most fast food menus are woefully low in these types of nutrients. Eating real, natural food with the least amount of processing is an excellent way to increase the quality of your diet. Eat a wide variety of foods, including brightly colored fruits and vegetables and dark, leafy vegetables. Now that this new research shows only 3 ounces of monounsaturated oil improves the absorption of carotenoids, pour some on as part of a balanced diet.

The orange-colored fruits and vegetables including carrots, apricots, mangoes, squash, and papaya carotenoids.

Editor’s Note: The best oil to use is high quality olive oil (first cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil) packaged in an opaque can or dark glass bottle. For carotenoid supplementation to promote eye health, try our Pure Focus, or Dr. Grossman’s Advanced Eye and Vision Support Formula – which contains all-natural zeaxanthin, not synthetic, and in nutritionally significant quantities.