Cutting out lectins is the latest diet ‘fad’. Here’s why you should ignore it

Is there any truth in these diet fads or are there more reasons to simply ignore them and get on with eating well and living life?

Hopefully common sense will prevail.

So to start with what are lectins? Lectins are proteins that are found in all living things, including some foods such as legumes, grains and seeds that are generally consumed raw.

Quinoa and brown rice salad with peppers and beans ... there’s a whole lotta lectin going on here.

Quinoa and brown rice salad with peppers and beans … there’s a whole lotta lectin going on here.Source:Getty Images

While the multifaceted roles of lectins in the body aren’t completely understood, they appear to be involved in immune functioning, cell growth and controlling inflammation in the body. Lectins are not digested in the body and directly enter the bloodstream. While there are some lectins that are toxic to the body — like those found in raw kidney beans which can result in reactions similar to that of food poisoning when ingested — these are rarely in foods we would eat day-to-day.

Capsicum? That has lectin in it.

Capsicum? That has lectin in it.Source:Supplied

The current concern about lectins has developed because as lectins are not digested, some individuals can produce antibodies to them, stimulating an immune response.

Indeed for some individuals who may suffer from various gut conditions including Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis, dietary lectins may further irritate the gut.

But for the average person who consumes lectins in relatively small amounts, via different foods in their diets including grains, seeds, nuts and legumes, there is no cause for concern.

Those who are more sensitive to the side effects of lectins via a particularly high intake of raw grains and beans may experience some side effects, including excessive gas, nausea and even vomiting.

These are all the body’s natural way of evacuating the molecules causing the gut issues. Sprouting, fermenting, soaking and even cooking versions of foods that have a high lectin content reduces much of the lectin content.

Eggplant? Also lectin.

Eggplant? Also lectin.Source:Supplied

So is there any reason that we should eliminate lectins from our diets?

In short: no.

Humans have consumed lectins for thousands of years, and while some individuals who may have gut issues might benefit from a diet low in lectins, it’s a relatively small over all.

Specifically foods with high lectin contents that may need to be reduced include grains, legumes and nightshade vegetables including tomatoes, eggplant and capsicum.

And for these individuals, a diet specifically developed by a dietitian is the key to ensuring lectins are not being unfairly targeted: it could be a range of medical and dietary issues impacting the gut.

Fad diets come and go. They tend to target one key food, or food issue such as lectins or gluten, giving diet-hungry media and self-appointed health experts something to preach and blame.

Human physiology, nutrition and its interactions with our environment is more complicated than that.

There is not a one-size-fits-all model, which also explains why there are fad diets emerging all the time.

While there is often a grain (pardon the pun) of truth in all diet fads, they are generally extrapolated and taken to the furthest degree.

Lectins may be a problem for a few of us, but more likely our issue comes down to eating too much, too often, as boring as that may be.

Everything a Celebrity Nutritionist Eats in a Day

Holiday eating and celebrating can (and often does) get the best of most of us—hence the influx in gym memberships and spike in wellness purchases come the new year—but, as much as we don’t like to admit it, there are strong-willed health enthusiasts exercising, eating well and treating their bodies properly around the clock 365 days a year. And though I like to consider myself a realist—I understand we can’t simply flip a switch and begin eating and training like a nutritionist does—seeing an example of what clean eating makes taking on the endeavor a whole lot less intimidating. To help spearhead your (and who am I kidding, my) healthy new year goals, we asked holistic nutritionist, wellness expert and health coach Kelly LeVeque to take us in and show us what a typical day of eating is like for her. Don’t rule it out just yet—you might be pleasantly surprised!

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Breakfast: 8–9 a.m.

“I start each day with a Be Well Smoothie, which consists of varying ingredients like greens, berries, chia seeds and almond milk, but always a healthy dose of protein, fat and fiber (aka The Be Well by Kelly FAB FOUR). The components work together to turn off your hunger hormones, elongate the blood sugar curve and keep you full and satisfied. Nowadays, I am leaning on my Spa Smoothie or another green favorite.”

 

Lunch: 1–2 p.m.

“Subsequent meals always involve of a mix of protein, fat, fiber and greens. Macronutrient intake plays an integral role in keeping cells, the microbiome and the brain healthy, plus, maintaining a loose structure allows you to eat what you want while guaranteeing you get what you need.”

“Lunch normally consists of a wild piece of salmon or bison, usually over a salad or wrapped into a lettuce cup. I love to mix up salmon salad with primal mayo with cucumbers to dip. If out and about, I tend to snag chicken and vegetables or a salad from places like Whole Foods, Erewhon, Sweetgreen or Urth Caffé (its chicken pesto salad is my favorite!). No matter where I eat, my goal is always to nourish my body with nutrients and calm my hunger with protein and healthy fat.”

“Pro tip: If I order a salad and it’s only an appetizer portion, I will order a side of avocado, ask for olive oil or double up on the protein. It’s all about front-loading your calories throughout the day instead of counting them (this way, you naturally eat less later on).”

 

Snack: 3–4 p.m.

“I limit snacking because research suggests it actually increases hunger, spikes insulin and interrupts the digestive process. However, if I need a pick-me-up, I go for nuts, hard-boiled eggs, a slaw or another fat-and-vegetable combo, or almond or coconut butter primal bars. If I am snacking around this time, I might not be getting dinner until 8 p.m.”

 

Dinner: 6–7 p.m.

“Dinner is normally homemade, semi-homemade meal or a crockpot favorite. I love to cook, but I don’t want to spend four hours in the kitchen unless it’s a fun weekend and I am trying to create something new. I would much rather be getting to my favorite yoga or spin class instead of spending hours on my feet in the kitchen. I love a whole rotisserie chicken, turkey flax meatballs and zoodles or a warm winter chili with a fresh vegetable salad.”

Dessert

As if these ideas weren’t mouthwatering enough, LeVeque doesn’t skimp on desserts, either! This guilt-free chocolate mousse option counts coconut yogurt, chocolate protein powder and cacao nibs as its only ingredients for serious flavor without all the calories. For more recipes, healthy ideas and waist-slimming motivation, follow LeVeque on Instagram and be sure to check out her website here.

How to Make Healthy Eating Painless, As Told by a Chef

The idea of meal prepping or eating clean at home and work sounds great—better food choices make us think clearer and feel better all-around—but for some of us, walking into the produce section (or kitchen to actually begin the process) is a daunting task to say the least. We reached out to Peder Bondhus, brand chef for Flower Child, an organic restaurant chain, to give some of his top tips on how to make eating better easier, more efficient and more delicious than ever.

Choose Your Vegetables Wisely

Nobody wants to buy fruits and vegetables that are going to turn the next day. Instead, opt for the variety that tend to stick around the longest and deliver the same nutritional benefits. “The vegetables that remain freshest the longest are root vegetables,” Bondhus says, which he explains include carrots, radishes, yams or sweet potatoes (basically, anything you can think of that has a root sticking off the end of it). “They seemingly last forever.” These options are great if you are trying to begin meal prepping, as they don’t go bad easily and are easily stored in containers in the fridge until you’re ready to eat them.

Image/Flower Child

Take Time to Prep

If you’ve made the choice to eat healthy, or already do, you should be sure to make the most of your good-for-your-body purchases by prepping them properly (this will also keep them around for longer). “The way I prefer to prep my produce at home is by washing and drying it, first,” Bondhus says. “Not only is this step important because you’re cleaning the produce of any bacteria, but prepping it also extends the shelf life.” Bondhus explains that ensuring everything is fully dried before storing it away is critical.

Bonus tip: “I also like to trim produce down to make it more space-efficient in the refrigerator.”

Image/Flower Child

Don’t Overdo It

Now that the proper food is selected and prepared, avoid ruining it—both the taste and a lot of the health benefits—by cooking it wrong. “I find the best way to cook or prepare vegetables is simply. They just need a little extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and maybe some fresh herbs,” Bondhus explains, adding that he then recommends roasting the vegetables on a sheet tray in the oven or just grilling them lightly. Even better, both of these preparations work well if you’re trying to cook in advance and store it away for later.

Image/Flower Child

Combine What Works 

When I asked Bondhus what vegetable-protein combinations he counts as his favorites—that could be easily recreated at home—I was pleasantly surprised at the foolproof and delicious duos he told me are popular at Flower Child (and couldn’t wait to attempt them myself!). “Roasted sweet potatoes, grilled asparagus and gently-sautéed broccoli all go great with grilled chicken or tofu.”

Image/Flower Child

Know Can Be Done in Advance, and What Can’t

Chopping, seasoning and combining some of your ingredients in advance can be a total time-saver, just like some health foods can be made in batches and stored in the fridge, but it’s important to remember that not all of your ingredients will always be able to be prepared beforehand. “When it comes to batching out ingredients, most of your heartier vegetables can be prepped in advance,” says Bondhus. “But, most greens and lettuces should be prepped the day you need them.”

Image/Flower Child

Don’t Mindlessly Munch

Making smart food choices can all end with one bad snack decision at work. To keep blind snacking at bay, keep nutritious options at your desk or in your car. “The best healthy snack for me is any kind of nut,” Bondhus says, naming almonds and pistachios as his go-tos. “When I have a sweet tooth I reach for dates. They fill you up, taste great and are low-glycemic.”

Image/Flower Child

Study the Menu

Dining at a restaurant can turn a strict diet into a cheat day really quickly. To avoid it, Bondhus says to be cautious of portion sizes, avoid fried food, heavy sauces and dressings. “These can be high in oil and often are high in sugar.” Also, order a glass of water before your food (and cocktail!) comes out to control hunger and keep you feeling full.

Image/Flower Child

4 Ways I Learned How to Adopt a Healthier Diet From a Woman Who Completely Transformed Her Body

Much attention is focused on the external signs of aging on our skin as we grow older. Although I’m just a couple years north of 30, my beauty regimen can rival that of someone a few decades older, thanks to work perks and the millennial obsession with “preventive anti-aging.” But as much cream as I slathered onto my face, certain pesky signs of aging kept rearing their ugly head—not exactly in the form of lines and wrinkles, but what felt like a subtle yet noticeable decline in wellness—a cough that never seems to go away, headaches that come out of nowhere and a sluggishness that sometimes finds me still in bed well into a weekend afternoon.

Fixing those signs of aging, the ones caused by the general pressures and stress of adult life, wasn’t quite as simple, and I knew that it required a 360-degree approach that started with eliminating poor eating habits and ended with stress management. Last year, during a routine work meeting, I was introduced to a woman named Diana Stobo, a chef and wellness coach who had completely transformed her body with a 100-pound weight loss and fixed a number of ailments through a very disciplined nutrition program that was heavy on raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. Although her results were astounding, the thought of not drinking alcohol when champagne is more readily available than water at most work functions, or avoiding processed foods when dinner is often takeout, seemed impossible. So instead of attempting (and surely failing at) her program alone, I booked a ticket to Costa Rica and decided to have Stobo and her team coach me through a three-day detox at her personal resort, The Retreat.

 

Usually the words “you’re on vacation” are synonymous with “treat yourself to a piña colada and some fried apps,” but The Retreat is not about that kind of indulgence. Instead, the experience is heavily centered around the concept of relieving your body of stress by removing everything that causes it in the first place. Aside from a reliable Wi-Fi connection (because, let’s be honest, the absence of that would be the ultimate stress trigger), technological devices are largely absent as is pollution, noise, traffic, too many people and yes, access to bad food. The kitchen is the heart of the property, where food takes on an almost medicinal quality, made mostly raw and mostly vegan and straight from the property’s backyard garden. All trained under Stobo, the kitchen staff members are equal part teachers and chefs. Here’s what they taught me about how to adopt a healthier diet for good.

 

Eat foods that make you feel good and ditch the ones that don’t.
How often have I looked at foods that I knew would make me feel gross after and proceeded to eat it anyway. The solution? When you have that nagging feeling that you’re about to make a bad choice, stop. “Recognize the foods that cause harm and substitute with delicious foods that nourish,” advises Stobo.

Not having the tools is what’s preventing you from eating healthier.
Sometimes sticking to a healthy routine can be as simple as changing your go-to kitchen tool from a microwave to a blender. When it comes to clean eating, “a high-powered blender is the best investment possible,” says Stobo. “For soups, smoothies, salad dressings, hummus, and desserts, this tool will do it all.”

 

Focus on the food, not the calorie count.
Counting calories and making healthy choices can sometimes be at odds. Case in point: When focused on restricting calories, we might be incentivized to reach for “low-fat” or “diet” options that are heavily processed and lack nutrition. “We don’t count calories,” says Stobo. “With mostly vegetables and fruits the calorie count isn’t significant. Some meals are heavier with nuts than others, but it all balances out.”

Start with moderation, not complete elimination.
Although Stobo lives by a list of “nos”—no dairy, wheat, sugar, meat, alcohol, or caffeine—she doesn’t advise everyone to go cold turkey with eliminating them all. At The Retreat, alcohol and coffee were available and locally grown chicken and fish were often served for dinner. As someone who was just easing into a healthier routine, having access to these items made all the difference between looking forward to my next meal and wanting to run away. Eating a healthy diet should feel good, not like you’re depriving yourself, and living by that rule is perhaps the most important step to eating well.

This Fat Fueled Diet Is Being Called Atkins 2.0

For years, we’ve been told to limit our fat intake. But this trendy diet instructs you to just the opposite, causing you to drop serious pounds—all while eating fats. Yes, you read that right.

You may have heard about the ketogenic diet, which consists of healthy fats, lean protein and a small amount of vegetable-based carbs to turn the body into a fat-burning furnace. Nutritionist David Morin says that if you follow the diet, your energy levels will be through the roof and you’ll experience more mental clarity, less bloating and fewer headaches and cravings. “You can lose five to seven pounds in the first four to six days and then about a pound per week,” he adds. “The ketogenic pathway is a way of using stored fat to produce energy because the body functions well on ketones.”

By manipulating fat, carbohydrates and protein, the body is forced to produce ketones, a source of energy, instead of glucose. “As long as 60–70 percent of your calories come from fats like cheese, uncured bacon, raw oils, avocado and nuts; 20–30 percent of your protein from fatty sources like wild-caught seafood or grass-fed protein (eating more protein than this amount can cause the protein to turn into glucose); and 10 percent from raw, green vegetables, you’ll be satiated.” An example meal would be a salad with lots of olive oil, sliced almonds, olives, cheese, bacon, avocado and a few pieces of shrimp, chicken or a piece of small steak.

He goes on to say that because the ketogenic diet gets the body into a state of ketosis, as long as you eat the right foods it will stay in that ketotic cycle, becoming more of a lifestyle where you can achieve optimal body composition. “There are some people that have stayed ketogenic for years. If done correctly, it’s healthy.”

The fastest way to get your body into a state of ketogenesis is with a fast, like the Master Cleanse. “Someone with an average amount of body fat can get into ketosis in just four days when you start the diet with the Master Cleanse. You also way to test your urine regularly to make sure that your body has entered that state of ketosis in the beginning—you can purchase ketogenic strips to gauge where you are in ketone production, which is important,” adds Morin. “Once you become ketone adapted, then you can start the transition into a truly ketogenic diet.” He also encourages cardio and/or circuit training, too, because it kicks up ketone production.

If it sounds a lot like the Atkins diet, Morin points out that there are similarities. “But, Atkins didn’t do his homework on the types of fats you can eat. The sources of fat in theory were good, but in practical terms they are bad for you because of the chemicals that they contain. In order to really lose weight and get in the best shape possible, everything you eat needs to be totally organic and raw.”

Study Shows This Diet Change Could Help You Lose Twice As Much Weight As Cutting Calories

Going “vegetarian” has been a hot topic for years now, and experts continue to debate whether it is better for your skin, weight and overall health, among other things. Many vegetarians (at least most of the ones I know) love having a plethora of reasons to convince omnivores to give up meat and move into their world of eco-friendly eating. And thanks to the results of a new study, here’s yet another one veggie-only lovers can use to back up their case.

Scientists from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C. studied 74 people with type 2 diabetes who were randomly prescribed either a low-calorie, vegetarian diet (the only animal product allowed was low-fat yogurt; one serving a day) or a standard anti-diabetic diet.

To determine the participants’ weight-loss potential, their diets were limited to 500 calories a day less than they would need to maintain their weight. The results, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, showed that after six months, those who had followed the vegetarian diet lost nearly 14 pounds compared to those on the traditional diet, who only dropped 7 pounds.

The researchers also analyzed the way fat was stored in the participants’ thighs to see how each diet affected it. Both diets resulted in a similar reduction in subcutaneous fat (fat under the skin), but more muscle fat was lost by those who ate a vegetarian diet.

Although it was a small study, the bottom line reveals surprising stats: Going “vegetarian” is twice as effective as eating a carnivorous diet when it comes to losing weight. Plus, research also uncovered that vegetarians reduce their muscle fat more effectively as well, and therefore boost their metabolism, too.

Dr. Hana Kahleová, lead author of the study, says, “This finding is important for people who are trying to lose weight, including those suffering from metabolic syndrome and/or type 2 diabetes. But it is also relevant to anyone who takes their weight management seriously and wants to stay lean and healthy.”

11 Ways to Get Enough Protein in Your Diet

The many benefits of protein have been well-researched and proven in medical studies. In fact, it is extremely essential to include adequate amount of protein throughout the day for your physical wellbeing, to repair muscles, manage blood sugar levels, to provide immunity and strength and help in weight loss. If you don’t consume enough protein on a day to day basis, it can lead to several health problems. Look for these symptoms as they are indicators of insufficient dietary protein:

11 Ways to Get Enough Protein in Your Diet

1. Poor mental focus
2. Lethargy and Fatigue
3. Slow recovery from cold and sore throat
4. Food cravings
5. Muscle weakness
6. Weight gain

It is extremely important to know the quality and quantity of protein needed on daily basis. The highest quality of protein is that, which includes all the essential amino acids and is bio-available to the human body. Of all the essential amino acids, the following four are critical for strength and recovery – Valine, Leucine, Isoleucine and Glutamine. A decline in any of these can lead to fatigue and muscle wastage. Here are some natural sources of protein for balanced nutrition.

1. Eggs:  Research suggests that egg protein is highly bio- available and both the eggwhite and the yolk help support muscle building and strength. Eggs are abundant in leucine, one of the most essential amino acids. Try including Omega-3 enriched eggs which contain 6 grams of protein in 1 egg. Also, recent human studies have confirmed that eggs do not increase your risk of cardio-vascular diseases.

eggs

2.Paneer or Cottage Cheese

: Around 15 grams in half a cup of paneeris a great way to up your protein and most Indian families would love to include in their diets. It is especially beneficial as a late-night snack.

paneer

3. Dahi or Yogurt

: Yogurt provides around 23 grams protein per bowl plus the added benefits of gut friendly bacteria and bone strengthening calcium.

yogurt
4. Milk: With around 8 grams of protein in a cup, enjoy your glass of smoothie or milkshake for breakfast. Try to get milk from cows raised by natural and organic farming methods.

 

milk new 620

5. Fish and seafood

: They are the most healthful foods you can consume. They are great for athletes and people who are recovering from an ailment as they are enriched with Omega-3 fatty acids known as EPA and DHA. The Indian Tilapia fish is a wonderful brain and muscle food. You can also include sardines, salmon, mussels, shrimps, red-snapper, and oysters for their high protein and mineral content.

fish in butter sauce

6. Chicken: Go for the organic chicken that is raised naturally. A broth made with chicken bones is a power house of good quality proteins and collagen to build and repair your muscles.

grilled chicken

7. Lentils: Lentils need to be combined with rice, wheat, or corn to make it a complete protein with an abundant dose of all essential amino acids. So, thumbs-up to dal and rice as an excellent source of protein for vegetarians. Also, sprouts is a great way to get easily absorbable protein with fiber and B and C Vitamins to build immunity.

lentils

8. Red meat: Lean goat or lamb meat that is commonly eaten in our country is a major source of protein plus an excellent source of Iron and Zinc. Women of child bearing age must include this superfood in their diet if they are non- vegetarian.

red meat 620

9. Nuts and seeds

: These great snacks to add protein in your daily diet include peanuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts and seeds like pumpkin, chia, flax, and sunflower. Remember not to heat or roast the seeds as this kills the healthy fatty acids they contain. Also, do not buy processed and packaged nuts as they are full of sodium.

nuts

10. Green peas

:  1 cup of green peas contains 7.9 grams of protein which is almost same as a cup of milk. So, vegetarians can enjoy a sabzi with matar-paneer and load up on their daily protein requirement.

rice peas

11. Amaranth: Native to India, amaranthladoos and other such treats have been a part of our diet for long. This Indian grain is abundant in magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and iron and provides 9 grams of protein in a cup of cooked grains.

ladoo

These are few useful protein choices you could add to your daily diet whether you want to build muscle, prevent disease, boost immunity or simply lose weight. You must get your daily protein requirement that is around 46 grams for an average woman and 56 grams for men. Your daily requirements change if you are super active or an athlete.

You are what you eat: Switching to a healthy diet may ensure a long, healthy life

It’s hard to eat right all the time, but making small improvements by choosing healthier foods now and then may significantly boost one’s chances of living longer, said a US study Wednesday. The report in the New England Journal of Medicine is the first to show that improving diet quality over at least a dozen years is associated with lower total and cardiovascular mortality.

Researchers at Harvard University tracked dietary changes in a population of nearly 74,000 health professionals who logged their eating habits every four years. Researchers used a system of diet-quality scores to assess how much diets had improved.

A study shows that improving diet quality over at least a dozen years is associated with lower total and cardiovascular mortality.

For instance, a 20%ile increase in scores could “be achieved by swapping out just one serving of red or processed meat for one daily serving of nuts or legumes,” said a summary of the research. Over the 12-year span, those who ate a little better than they did at the start — primarily by consuming more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fatty fish — saw an eight to 17 % lower risk of dying prematurely in the next 12 years.

Those whose diets got worse over time saw a higher risk of dying in the next 12 years of follow-up, on the order of a six to 12% increase. “Our results highlight the long-term health benefits of improving diet quality with an emphasis on overall dietary patterns rather than on individual foods or nutrients,” said senior author Frank Hu, professor and chair of the Harvard Chan School Department of Nutrition.

Man of steel: An iron-rich diet may help keep heart diseases at bay

A new study has found a link between low levels of iron and a higher risk of heart disease. After analysing genetic data, a team of researchers from Imperial College London and University College London have found that iron-rich foods could have a protective effect against coronary artery disease (CAD), a type of cardiovascular disease (CVD) where clogged arteries reduce the amount of blood reaching the heart.

The team looked at the impact of genetic variants on people’s iron status by gathering genomic data from 48,000 people in a public database. They focused on three points in the genome where a single ‘letter’ difference in the DNA — called a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) — can slightly increase or reduce a person’s iron status, which is the amount of the nutrient in the body.

Previous studies have suggested that high iron status could actually increase the risk of heart attacks.

Although previous research has already shown that iron status plays a role in CVD risk, the results have been conflicting, with some studies finding that high iron status has a protective effect, while others have suggested that high iron status could actually increase the risk of heart attacks.

“As our genes are randomly allocated before we are born, their impact on our systemic iron status is less affected by the lifestyle or environmental factors that can confound observational studies,” explained Dr Dipender Gill, lead author of the study. However, the researchers also pointed out that the findings now need to be validated in a randomized controlled trial to see if iron supplements have any impact on the risk of CVD.

Iron can be consumed from rich foods such as seafood, red meat and leafy greens. (HT file photo)

“Our findings have potential implications for public health,” Dr Gill added, “For those people who have already had a heart attack, and whose iron status is low, we could potentially reduce their risk of having another heart attack just by giving them an iron tablet. This is an exciting idea that warrants further investigation.”

Men require less than nine milligrams of dietary iron per day, however women under 50 need closer to 15 milligrams, although most people are able to get enough iron from their diet, with iron found in foods such as red meat, pork and poultry, seafood, beans, dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, and dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots.

Another reason to eat more fruit and vegetables. They keep heart diseases at bay

A new Swedish study has found that lutein, a nutrient in brightly coloured fruit and vegetables, can reduce inflammation in patients with coronary artery disease.

The study, carried out by researchers at Linköping University, looked at the levels of six of the most common carotenoids in blood from 193 patients with coronary artery disease.

“A considerable number of patients who have experienced myocardial infarction still have low-level chronic inflammation in the body, even after receiving effective treatment with revascularisation, drugs and lifestyle changes. We know that chronic inflammation is associated with a poorer prognosis,” explained study leader Lena Jonasson.

Carotenoids are the mainly red, orange, and yellow pigments which give the bright colour to plants, vegetables, and fruits, such as ripe tomatoes, or dark-green leafy vegetables such as spinach. Previous research has already suggested that carotenoids, such as the more well known beta-carotene and lycopene, could be linked with inflammation, which is a key factor in many types of coronary artery disease, such as myocardial infarction and angina.

Researchers now plan to explore further to see if increased consumption of foods rich in lutein has a positive effect on the immune system in patients with coronary artery disease.

To look at their potential anti-inflammatory effect, the team also measured the level of inflammation in the blood using the inflammatory marker interleukin-6, IL-6. They discovered that lutein was the only carotenoid whose level correlated with IL-6, finding that the higher the level of lutein in the blood, the lower the level of IL-6.

The researchers now plan to research further to see whether increased consumption of foods rich in lutein has a positive effect on the immune system in patients with coronary artery disease.

The findings can be found published online in the journal Atherosclerosis.