Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
June 11, 2003
Prof hoping ‘flower power' improves eye health, produces better eggs
A University of Guelph professor is studying whether feeding chickens a pigment that is found naturally in the petals of marigolds can improve human eye health.
Steve Leeson of the Department of Animal and Poultry Science says adding pure lutein – one of the pigments that give egg yolk its yellow-orange colour – to chicken feed may produce eggs with higher levels of lutein. At high levels, such as four to six milligrams a day, lutein helps prevent cataracts and macular degeneration — permanent physical damage to the central vision portion of the eye — which affects 30 per cent of people over 60. Currently, the average daily lutein intake sits at around half a milligram a day.
"Lutein is found naturally in spinach and most potently in the petals of marigolds," Leeson said. "If we can significantly improve the lutein content in eggs, it would be easier for Canadians to naturally consume their recommended daily intake." The average Canadian consumes 200 eggs a year, including those added to recipes of processed and prepared foods. Currently, eggs contain less than one milligram of lutein.
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