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J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Feb 26;51(5):1322-7.

Distribution of lutein, zeaxanthin, and related geometrical isomers in fruit, vegetables, wheat, and pasta products.

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  • 1Department of Plant Science, Waite Campus, The University of Adelaide, Australia.


Quantitative data with regard to dietary (3R,3'R,6'R)-lutein, (3R,3'R)-zeaxanthin, and their (E/Z)-geometrical isomers are scarce, and in most cases, only the combined concentrations of these two carotenoids in foods are reported. Lutein and zeaxanthin accumulate in the human macula and have been implicated in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The qualitative and quantitative distributions of lutein, zeaxanthin, and their (E/Z)-isomers in the extracts from some of the most commonly consumed fruits, vegetables, and pasta products were determined by HPLC employing a silica-based nitrile-bonded column. Green vegetables had the highest concentration of lutein (L) and zeaxanthin (Z), and the ratios of these carotenoids (L/Z) were in the range 12-63. The yellow-orange fruits and vegetables, with the exception of squash (butternut variety), had much lower levels of lutein in comparison to greens but contained a higher concentration of zeaxanthin. The ratio of lutein to zeaxanthin (L/Z) in two North American bread varieties of wheat (Pioneer, Catoctin) was 11 and 7.6, respectively, while in a green-harvested wheat (Freekeh) imported from Australia, the ratio was 2.5. Between the two pasta products examined, lasagne and egg noodles, the latter had a much higher concentration of lutein and zeaxanthin. The levels of the (E/Z)-geometrical isomers of lutein and zeaxanthin in these foods were also determined.

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