Post harvest improvement of zeaxanthin content of vegetables

Maria Clausén, Siyu Huang, Sinan Cem Emek, Ingegerd Sjöholm, Hans-Erik Åkerlund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Zeaxanthin is a carotenoid produced by plants and has been associated with protection of the photosynthetic machinery under light stress and, together with lutein, in protection of the central retina of the eye. Zeaxanthin levels in blood plasma have been negatively correlated to the development of AMD (age-related macular degeneration) (Gale et al, 2003). Under normal conditions, plants have a low content of zeaxanthin. The aim of this study was to increase the zeaxanthin content in green vegetables by post harvest treatments. Efficient conditions for activation of the endogenous enzyme system generating zeaxanthin was established and included incubation at low pH (2.5-5.5), with the membrane permeable acetic acid/acetate buffer at room temperature or above for 30 min or more. Typically more than 20-fold increase in zeaxanthin content was obtained for spinach, corn salad, parsley, basil, lemon balm and peas. For spinach up to 4 mg/100 g fresh weight of leaves were obtained. In consequence less amount of vegetables would be needed in the diet to provide the same amount of zeaxanthin for the eye. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-197
JournalJournal of Food Engineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Food Engineering
  • Biological Sciences

Free keywords

  • Antioxidant
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Violaxanthin de-epoxidase
  • AMD
  • Violaxanthin
  • Carotenoid
  • Lutein


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