Macular Carotenoids – Plant Nutrients and Recipes to Prevent Macular Degeneration

Macular Carotenoids – Plant Nutrients and Recipes to Prevent Macular Degeneration

The lush glow of an orange bell pepper or the deep yellow of juicy mango slices are just two examples of the power of carotenoids. Carotenoids are the compounds that give fruits and vegetables colors like bright yellow, red, and orange. These colors enable all sorts of ecological activity to occur such as pollination and consumption. 

When humans are on the consuming end of carotenoids they have the opportunity to benefit greatly. Making carotenoids part of your every day diet has now been shown to significantly enhance your chances for preventing macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of blindness in individuals sixty years or older. 

There are over six hundred carotenoids found in nature but scientists have discovered that two specific carotenoid isomers show up on the macular of the eye. The eye macular is part of the retina and holds a high concentration of photoreceptor cells, essential for healthy sight. Lutein and the zeaxanthin are the special carotenoid isomers attracted to this area and are now being referred to as “macular carotenoids.” 

Adding these powerful antioxidants to your plate could positively affect your vision and probably other aspects of your health as well. 

Blue Light Absorption

Blue light is everywhere, particularly coming from the many spectrums of light derived from the sun. However, blue light exposure has increased exponentially since modern devices have advanced over the years. Blue light is emitted in powerful rays coming from computers, cell phones, televisions, medical monitors and much more. This light is one of the strongest hues on the spectrum and if it reaches your retina, it could have damaging results. 

All About Vision (AAV) reported that, 

“The fact that blue light penetrates all the way to the retina (the inner lining of the back of the eye) is important, because laboratory studies have shown that too much exposure to blue light can damage light-sensitive cells in the retina. This causes changes that resemble those of macular degeneration, which can lead to permanent vision loss.”

It has been found that the two carotenoid isomers, lutein and the zeaxanthin, are found in abundance stored within the macular tissue. So much so that practitioners can actually see lutein and zeaxanthin deposits directly on the surface. This is a good sign because these two carotenoids have been found to be natural absorbers of blue light. Eating more of these enables your body to store them onto the retina and act as on-surface protectants working more efficiently than any man-made medicine or technology to date.

Powers of L & Z 

Continued research shows the extraordinary benefits of increasing lutein and zeaxanthin in your diet while supplementing with these carotenoids in potent capsule form as well. 

The American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF) cited a study performed on the bird species “quail” at Schepens Eye Research Institute and Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School which found that, 

“…photoprotection was strongly correlated with the concentration of zeaxanthin in the retinas of the quail. Retinas with low concentrations of zeaxanthin had suffered severe light damage, as evidenced by a very high number of apoptotic photoreceptor cells, while the group with high zeaxanthin concentrations had minimal damage. Apoptosis is programmed cell death, the final common pathway for photoreceptor death in retinal degeneration.”

Another study reported by the AMDF shows how a specific lutein supplemental protocol may help prevent you from developing macular degeneration, 

“Dr. Johanna M. Seddon and associates at Harvard University found that 6 mg per day of lutein led to a 43% lower risk for macular degeneration. Lutein supplements are available in soft-gel capsule form. They should be taken at mealtime because lutein is absorbed better when ingested with a small amount of fat, such as olive oil. The recommended dosage is 6 mg to 30 mg daily.”

Combining lutein and zeaxanthin gives you a one-two punch at deflecting potential blue light damage which you are at risk of being exposed to daily. 

Eat to See

There are plenty of excellent optical supplements on the market that combine carotenoids with many other sight saving formulas. Taking these daily supplements will give you a potent dose that accumulates over time to potentially strengthen your macula. However, adding more lutein and zeaxanthin fresh foods to your diet will not only enhance this supplemental protocol but will certainly increase your health on a variety of levels, including immune strength and skin glow. 

Try some of these lutein and zeaxanthin rich recipes reported by All About Vision or come up with your own so you can do your body good by learning how to eat to see.

Orange Pepper, Spinach and Sundried Tomato Frittata (with vegan options)


3 eggs (or vegan substitute like extra firm crumbled tofu) 

1 tbsp milk (or vegan substitute like oat milk) 

1/2 cup diced orange bell peppers 

1/4 cup sundried tomatoes 

1/4 cup fresh or frozen spinach (chopped) 

1 tbsp olive oil 

Salt and pepper

  • Whisk together eggs, milk, parsley, salt and pepper and set aside.
  • Sauté pepper and sundried tomatoes in olive oil for 1 minute over medium-high heat 
  • Add spinach until thawed and cooked.
  • Reduce heat to low
  • Add egg mixture, ensure vegetables and eggs are evenly distributed in the pan.
  • Cook on low heat until top of frittata begins to harden, approximately 5 minutes. 
  • Make sure the bottom does not burn. 
  • Flip frittata: Place a plate over top of pan, flip the pan and slide frittata back into pan. 
  • Cook on low for another 1-2 minutes. 
  • Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • The frittata can also be enjoyed at room temperature or even cold the next day. Serves two.

Eye Healthy Sunset Gazpacho Soup


*This is a summer dish served cold

2 lbs orange tomatoes, cut in half

2 orange peppers, stems and seeds removed

1/2 small Vidalia onion, roughly chopped

1 cup fresh carrot juice

1 garlic clove

3-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp sherry vinegar

Salt and pepper

Finely grated hardboiled egg, for garnish (optional)

  • Puree the peppers, tomatoes, onion and carrot juice in a blender until smooth.
  • Add the sherry vinegar, and while blending, drizzle in the olive oil.
  • Season to taste, and chill until ready to serve.
  • To serve, pour the soup into dishes and top with the grated egg.
  • Makes about 6 cups

Improve your eye performance and longevity with macular carotenoids. According to the aforementioned research as well as many other past and current studies, eating a diet rich in orange and yellow foods as well as dark green leafy vegetables can benefit glare execution, photo stress recuperation and may increase carotenoid density in the macula. Overall, do yourself a favor and go veggie and fruit dominant for a longer, healthier, out of the dark future.