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Lutein-enriched eggs as another superfood

Eating one lutein-enriched egg a day can be a very healthy habit.

Dietary-considerations-for-egg-quality
KariHoglund | iStock.com

Lutein intake is below what is considered essential for good eye health in humans, and eggs are the perfect vehicle to increase daily intake.

Lutein is just another carotenoid, a xanthophyll. It is a natural and potent antioxidant. It can be found in ingredients like corn, leafy vegetables and other plants.

The modern human diet is rather low in lutein intake. Low lutein intake has been associated with poor eye health, especially with the early onset of age-related macular disease, which is the leading cause of blindness and vision impairment. So, lutein is good for eye health.

Eggs contain carotenoids, and especially xanthophylls, when hens are fed on corn-based diets, but not enough lutein – at least not enough to cover the estimated requirement of 600 mcg/day for an adult human. Adding lutein in hen feed – as another additive – has shown that lutein concentration in eggs can increase dramatically. Studies have indicated that adding 1000 mg/kg lutein in layer feed can increase lutein concentration in their eggs up to 10 times. Lutein can also be increased in layer feeds by adding more corn byproducts that contain its pigments, alfalfa meal, marigold petals, and even some specific algae.

A regular egg contains about 200 mcg lutein in its yolk (pigments are in the yolk, after all). Consuming three eggs per day is not to everyone’s taste, but eating one lutein-enriched egg a day is not unfeasible, and it can actually be a very healthy habit, especially if such an egg is further enriched with omega-3 fatty acids that boost immunity and health. By the way, lutein in eggs is two to three times more bioavailable than lutein in vegetable sources. This means eggs can and should be a choice source of lutein.

We used to consider eggs as just another source of nutrients, and that remains true. They are one of nature’s best sources of nutrients, but eggs contain myriad bioactive compounds, the role of which we have just started appreciating. Boosting the concentration of such health-benefiting compounds can address the dietary preferences of consumers who prefer to control their egg intake. Lutein is just another example of how eggs can become a superfood.

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