Vegetable colouring agent may suppress inflammation

07 July 2017

Whatever your next meal, make sure you pack some vegetables onto your plate.

Thinking of what to make for your next meal? Whatever you decide, make sure you pack some vegetables onto your plate.

Academics from at Linkoping University in Sweden have discovered that lutein, a nutrient found in colourful veggies such as spinach, kale and carrots, has anti-inflammatory effects in patients with heart disease.

For their study, the researchers investigated whether carotenoids, a large family of fat-soluble natural colouring agents found in plants, has an impact on people with heart problems.

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In their analysis, the researchers measured the levels of the six most common carotenoids in blood from 193 patients with coronary artery disease. They found that the higher the level of lutein in the blood, the lower the level of one particular inflammatory marker.

“Our study confirms that one particular carotenoid, lutein, can suppress long-term inflammation in patients with coronary artery disease,” said researcher Rosanna Chung in a statement. “We have also shown that lutein is absorbed and stored by the cells of the immune system in the blood.”

Plus, they also reported that the inflammatory activity of the cells became significantly lower when they were treated with lutein.

"The patients were receiving the best possible treatment for their disease according to clinical guidelines, but even so, many of them had a persistent inflammation. At the same time, the patients had lower levels of lutein," added Professor Lena Jonasson.

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The researchers now plan to investigate whether increased intake of food rich in lutein has a positive effect on the immune system in patients with coronary artery disease.

Full study results have been published in journal Atherosclerosis.

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