The effects of lutein on cardiometabolic health across the life course: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Feb;103(2):481-94. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.120931. Epub 2016 Jan 13.


Background: The antioxidant lutein is suggested as being beneficial to cardiometabolic health because of its protective effect against oxidative stress, but evidence has not systematically been evaluated.

Objective: We aimed to evaluate systematically the effects of lutein (intake or concentrations) on cardiometabolic outcomes in different life stages.

Design: This is a systematic review with meta-analysis of literature published in MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Central, Web of Science, PubMed, and Google Scholar up to August 2014. Included were trials and cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional studies in which the association between lutein concentrations, dietary intake, or supplements and cardiometabolic outcomes was reported. Two independent investigators reviewed the articles.

Results: Seventy-one relevant articles were identified that included a total of 387,569 participants. Only 1 article investigated the effects of lutein during pregnancy, and 3 studied lutein in children. Furthermore, 31 longitudinal, 33 cross-sectional, and 3 intervention studies were conducted in adults. Meta-analysis showed a lower risk of coronary heart disease (pooled RR: 0.88; 95% CI: 0.80, 0.98) and stroke (pooled RR: 0.82; 95% CI: 0.72, 0.93) for the highest compared with the lowest tertile of lutein blood concentration or intake. There was no significant association with type 2 diabetes mellitus (pooled RR: 0.97; 95% CI: 0.77, 1.22), but higher lutein was associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome (pooled RR: 0.75; 95% CI: 0.60, 0.92) for the highest compared with the lowest tertile. The literature on risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases showed that lutein might be beneficial for atherosclerosis and inflammatory markers, but there were inconsistent associations with blood pressure, adiposity, insulin resistance, and blood lipids.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that higher dietary intake and higher blood concentrations of lutein are generally associated with better cardiometabolic health. However, evidence mainly comes from observational studies in adults, whereas large-scale intervention studies and studies of lutein during pregnancy and childhood are scarce.

Keywords: antioxidant; cardiometabolic health; life course; lutein; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Carotenoids / blood
  • Carotenoids / therapeutic use
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Glucose Metabolism Disorders / blood
  • Glucose Metabolism Disorders / epidemiology
  • Glucose Metabolism Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Lutein / blood
  • Lutein / therapeutic use*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / blood
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors


  • Antioxidants
  • Biomarkers
  • Carotenoids
  • Lutein