Muffins and bread show lutein carrier potential for eye health

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Lutein, Nutrition, Food

Fortifying bread and muffins with lutein may be a suitable vehicle to boost intakes of the compound, according to a new study from Spain.

High-lutein wheat and corn flour was used to prepare lutein enriched cookies, muffins and bread, with “reasonable amounts”​ of the carotenoid still measurable in the final baked products, according to results published in the Journal ofAgricultural and Food Chemistry​.

“Despite the significant losses of lutein during processing, the developed fortified baked products still contain reasonable concentrations (up to 1.0 mg/serving) of lutein and would hold promise for the development of high-lutein functional foods,”​ wrote researchers from Guelph Food Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

All eyes on lutein

Lutein, a nutrient found in various foods including green leafy vegetables and egg yolk, has a ten-year history in the dietary supplement market as a nutrient to reduce the risk of age related macular degeneration (AMD).

The global lutein market is set to hit $124.5 million (€93 million) in 2013, according to a 2007 report from Frost & Sullivan, with skin health offering a major new avenue for the carotenoid.

According to the report, manufacturers need to address this growing maturity in dietary supplements by identifying new and potentially lucrative application segments that offer opportunities for the continued growth of the lutein market.

“Because the role of lutein in human health has become evident, it is essential to boost the daily intake of lutein, which is low worldwide. For example, the average daily intake of lutein in the United States is about 1.7mg/day and in Europe is 2.2 mg/day,”​ wrote the researchers, led by El-Sayed Abdel-Aal and his co-workers.

“These values are below the levels purported to reduce the risk of eye diseases such as cataracts and AMD […] Thus, the development of high-lutein staple foods would be of interest to the food industry to enhance lutein intake,”​ they added.

Study details

The Guelph-based researchers prepared pan bread, flat bread, cookies, and muffins were with high-lutein and lutein-fortified whole wheat flours. Processing and baking detrimentally affected the lutein and zeaxanthin content of the bakery products. For example, in the flat bread the all-trans​ lutein decreased by about 40 per cent, while the reduction in cookies was about 63 percent. The loss in muffins was similar, with about 58 percent of the trans-lutein lost.

Despite such losses the researchers were positive about the potential of fortified bakery to offer lutein-rich products.

Next stage

The researcher confirmed that further study is already underway, with the focus on “how much lutein is transferred from the food matrix into the bile acid micelles and how much lutein is absorbed/passes through intestinal walls”,​ wrote Abdel-Aal and his co-workers.

“In addition, more research is being carried out to evaluate antioxidant properties of these wholegrain high-lutein food products,”​ they added.

Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1021/jf102400t
“Stability of Lutein in Wholegrain Bakery Products Naturally High in Lutein or Fortified with Free Lutein”
Authors: E-S.M. Abdel-Aal, J.C. Young, H Akhtar, I. Rabalski

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