Carotenoids, a family of some 500 natural yellow-to-red pigments, brighten the plant world. Diets rich in at least one of these, lutein, may also brighten a person's chances of warding off heart disease, new studies indicate.
The findings stem from research linking consumption of fruits and vegetables to heart health. Since oxidation fosters artery-clogging atherosclerosis and fruits and veggies serve up a bounty of antioxidant carotenoids, these pigments made promising candidates for prevention of heart disease. When trials in people indicated that beta carotene, the most abundant carotenoid in human blood, offered no heart protection (SN: 1/27/96, p. 55), three collaborating research groups in Los Angeles turned to lutein.
This yellow agent plays a major role in coloring egg yolks, corn, and summer squash. However, the main dietary sources of lutein are dark-green veggies, such as spinach and broccoli.