Lutein and zeaxanthin in leafy greens and their bioavailability: olive oil influences the absorption of dietary lutein and its accumulation in adult rats

J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Jul 25;55(15):6395-400. doi: 10.1021/jf070482z. Epub 2007 Jun 30.


This study determined the lutein level in various green leafy vegetables (GLVs) and the influence of olive and sunflower oils on the postprandial plasma and eye response of dietary lutein in adult rats, previously induced with lutein depletion (LD). Fresh GLVs (n = 35) were assessed for lutein (L) and its isomer zeaxanthin (Z) levels by high-performance liquid chromatography and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Among GLVs analyzed, Commelina benghalensis L. contained a higher level of L + Z (183 mg/100 g dry wt) and was used as a lutein source for feeding studies. Rats with LD were fed a diet containing powdered C. benghalensis (2.69 mg lutein/kg diet) with either olive oil (OO group), sunflower oil (SFO group), or groundnut oil (GNO group) for 16 days. The L + Z levels of the OO group were markedly (p > 0.05) higher than those of SFO and GNO groups, in plasma (37.6 and 40.9%) and eyes (22.7 and 30.8%), respectively. These results suggest that oleic acid or OO can be used as a suitable fat source to modulate the absorption of dietary lutein to manage age-related macular degeneration.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / pharmacology
  • Lutein / analysis*
  • Lutein / pharmacokinetics*
  • Male
  • Olive Oil
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Vegetables / chemistry*
  • Xanthophylls / analysis*
  • Xanthophylls / pharmacokinetics*
  • Zeaxanthins


  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Olive Oil
  • Plant Oils
  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • Lutein