Lutein is a plant pigment, or phytochemical that belongs to the carotenoid family. They are responsible for giving plants their bright orange, red, and yellow colors, and contain many health encouraging properties like antioxidants. Lutein differs from other carotenoids because is taken up directly to the brain and eyes. Although lutein is not classified as an essential nutrient, it does provide some health benefits. Due to the fact that Americans are living longer, more are experiencing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration(AMD); both are vision issues. Research has found lutein’s antioxidant effects help prevent damage to the retina from the sun. It was also found that consuming foods that are high in carotenoid reduces the risk for AMD and cataracts. Since the retina is an extension of the brain, the lutein gets to the eye through the barrier between the blood and brain. The tissue that makes up the retina and brain are similar in the amount of lutein they contain, and there is a positive correlation linking it with cognitive function. Studies show that lutein supplements in women have increased verbal fluency and cognitive function significantly. A similar study also provided subjects the experimental group lutein through avocados and the control group with the same amount of calories through chickpeas or potatoes daily for six months. Those that ate the lutein-high avocados scored higher in problem solving than the control group. These benefits are not seen at the levels of lutein which the majority of Americans consume. You can increase your lutein consumption by incorporating more eggs, yellow/red vegetables, avocados, and leafy greens. It is also important to note that lutein is a fat soluble, so the body can’t absorb it without a healthy fats, like olive oil or salmon, present.