I bet you didn’t know there is a powerful nutrient that starts with the letter “X”! There is actually a group of phytonutrients named Xanthophylls, which keep your body’s cells safe from dangerous free radicals and boost your overall health. Xanthophylls are non-essential, plant-based nutrients that have numerous health benefits. There are 5 main Xanthophylls (Astaxanthin, Canthaxanthin, Cryptoxanthin, Lutein, and Zeaxanthin) and they all provide a host of health benefits. Read on to learn about the numerous health benefits and natural food sources of Xanthophylls.
This week’s Nutrients by the Alphabet: Xanthophylls
That’s right, in this new series – Nutrients by the Alphabet – you will learn all about important nutrients (vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants), their health benefits, and easy and delicious ways to get more of the good stuff with a fun recipe to try each week (courtesy of my awesome student-intern from Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School – Shelby Persechino)!
So, what are the health benefits of Xanthophylls?
Xanthophylls boosts your blood flow with the help from Astaxanthin (which reduces high blood pressure) and Lutein (which supports a good blood flow by preventing atherosclerosis). With these benefit, Xanthophylls can also help prevent heart disease. Xanthophylls also improves your eye sight with the help from Cryptoxanthin (which creates vitamin A that promotes healthy vision and night vision), from Astaxanthin (which prevents cataracts, glaucoma, and macular edema), from Lutein (which protects against cataracts, macular degeneration and photophobia), and from Zeaxanthin (which prevents age related macular degeneration and cataracts). Xanthophylls boosts your immune system and your reproductive system with the help from Cryptoxanthin, which helps form vitamin A and supports healthy fetal growth and healthy sperm production. Xanthophylls also improves endurance and stamina with the help from Astaxanthin which boosts the mitochondria and prevents buildup of lactic acid during exercise. Xanthophylls helps prevent cancer with the help from Astaxanthin, Cryptoxanthin and Lutein. Studies have shown that Xanthophylls can protect against ultraviolet damage with the help from Astaxanthin, Canthaxanthin, and Lutein which helps keep your body’s cells safe from the harmful effects of UV rays. Phew! Now that’s a lot of health benefits from some powerful phytonutrients!
So, how much Xanthophylls do you need and where can you find it?
There is no official RDA for Xanthophylls, but consuming a variety of yellow pigmented foods and dark leafy greens will ensure that you are getting a good dose of these beneficial phytonutrients. You can find Xanthophylls in egg yolks, corn, broccoli, green peas, Brussels sprouts, sweet orange bell peppers, kale, collard greens, spinach, turnip greens, salmon, red Phaffia yeast, and cayenne pepper.
Looking for a healthy easy recipe to increase your Xanthophyll intake? Try this Lemon-garlic spinach and kale recipe from The Nutrition Twins.
Now that looks like a delicious side dish and full of wonderful health benefits!