September 20, 2004.
By Kylie Walker,
A COMPOUND in eggs has been found to help ward off macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in Australia.
Leutine, a plant chemical found in green leafy vegetables and egg yolks, helps protect the eye against damage from ultraviolet and other types of light, United States biochemist and nutrition researcher Dr Donald McNamara said.
"Leutine is the only compound the body concentrates in the macular region of the eye and it does that because leutine absorbs blue wave-length and ultraviolet light and so protects that region of the eye from the damage," Dr McNamara said.
"When you don't have sufficient leutine in your diet you run a greater risk of macular degeneration, in which you'll start to see a black spot in the middle of your vision which grows over time.
"Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in Australia."
Smokers, people with blue eyes, older people and those with a family history of macular degeneration are most at risk.
"People at higher risk should get leutine from a variety of sources, but you optimise your intake of it from eggs," Dr McNamara said, ahead of speaking at a conference on eggs and health in Sydney today.
"The hen extracts it from corn and soy and other feed and concentrates it in the yolk and ... it turns out the leutine in eggs has very high bio-availability."
Having a high bio-availability means the leutine in egg yolks can be more easily absorbed through the gut than that found in most other sources.
"You get almost three times more into the blood stream from eggs than from spinach and other vegetables," Dr McNamara said.
"There's been a study of people who ate six eggs a week over three months and they measured an increase in the amount of macular pigment density, so the leutine accumulates in the eye."
© The Australian.
Source URL: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,10818903%255E1702,00.html
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