The American Heart Association (See Healthy Lifestyle at www.americanheart.org) recommends that we eat plenty of Vegetables and fruits to prevent against heart Disease and stroke. Eating a variety of Vegetables and fruits – especially brightly colored Vegetables and fruits rich in carotenoids – may help control your blood pressure.
Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants that help protect our bodies against degenerative diseases. Two carotenoids, Lutein and zeaxanthin are particularly important to Cardiovascular health. Lutein is a yellow-to-orange pigment or phytochemical found mostly in plants and works as an antioxidant in your body to reduce the damage done by free radicals. Lutein is a carotenoid and is related to vitamin A. Other carotenoids include beta carotene, alpha carotene and zeaxanthin.
THE SWEDISH STUDY
In 2006, researchers from Sweden found that people suffering from coronary artery disease have consistently low levels of the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and beta cryptoxanthin.
Conversely, they found that the healthy persons in the control group had significantly higher levels of these carotenoids in their blood. They think it’s connected to immune function because of the higher levels of natural killer cells in the people with higher levels of these carotenoids.
“This finding suggests a specific link between certain carotenoids, oxidative stress, and immune perturbation imbalance in coronary artery disease,” said lead researcher Caroline Lidebjer from the University Hospital at Linkoping, Sweden. (Feb. 2006 issue of Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease, doi: 10.1016/numecd.2006.02.2006).