An unlikely source offers unprecedented protection
for your eyes, your heart, AND your brain
It’s called astaxanthin, and it’s found in microscopic algae. But even if you can’t pronounce it, this is one nutrient you can’t afford to do without. Because as it turns out, this antioxidant may offer the best protection against the single leading cause of blindness: age-related macular degeneration.
And while you’re protecting your eyes, you could also be reducing your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative diseases to boot.
Look, I’m as concerned about my health as the next guy, but I don’t care how many nutrients are in algae——I’m not about to start slathering that slimy green seaweed on my steak.
But it turns out I don’t have to.
The best way to load up on your fill of astaxanthin is to eat the fish that eat the algae. They should be fairly easy to identify because the astaxanthin gives their flesh a pink tone—so we’re talking about fish such as salmon, shrimp, crab, and lobster.
Astaxanthin (pronounced as-ta-zan-thin) is a type of caratonoid called a xanthophyll. (Other xanthophylls include lutein and zeaxanthin.) But studies have shown that astaxanthin has a stronger antioxidant activity than both lutein and zeaxanthin—and it has 500 times more antioxidant activity than vitamin E. That’s good news for astaxanthin——but that’s not the only thing that makes it stand out from the rest. You see, as beneficial as they may be…
Most antioxidants have a dirty little secret
For starters, the vast majority do absolutely nothing for your eyes. That’s because most antioxidants aren’t able to cross the blood-brain barrier. This barrier is in place to keep infectious organisms and chemicals from entering your nervous system. In the process, plenty of beneficial substances are kept out as well. But that’s where xanthophylls come in.
We’ve already known that lutein and zeaxanthin can penetrate this barrier, which is why they’re hailed as eye-protective nutrients. Now we can add astaxanthin to the list——and researchers from the University of Illinois have the research to prove it.
According to researchers, “The administration of astaxanthin also retards the progress of degenerative eye diseases and [benefits] the vision of the individuals suffering from degenerative eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration.”
But just because astaxanthin can cross the blood brain barrier doesn’t mean it’s limited to eye health benefits. Numerous animal studies have shown that it has tremendous heart benefits as well. In fact, from the looks of it, astaxanthin could become…
The leading nutrient in the fight against cardiovascular disease
A quick look at these studies should tell you everything you need to know.
- According to a study published in Antioxidants and Redox Signaling, astaxanthin can reduce the damage to your muscles (including your heart) caused by rigorous exercise (which you shouldn’t be doing to begin with——don’t get me started).
- A study published in the BMC Nephrology showed that astaxanthin can help prevent blood clots and inhibit LDL oxidation.
- In a study published in Nutrition and Metabolism (London), women taking between 2 and 4 mg of astaxanthin for 8 weeks had reduced DNA damage, reduced C-reactive protein, and enhanced immune response compared to the control group.
- Finally, a study published in Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin found that astaxanthin can reduce blood pressure and ease some of the damage to your blood vessels caused by hypertension.
Astaxanthin’s ability to cross the blood-brain barrier also makes it a strong candidate for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. No studies have been done yet to evaluate its effect on these diseases, but so what?
You already know that astaxanthin is more powerful than lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin E. You already know that it can cross the blood-brain barrier. And you already know getting it is as easy as adding tasty salmon, shrimp, or lobster to your diet.
So what are you waiting for?
Here’s what to do:
The best way to get all the benefits of astaxanthin——for your eyes, your heart, and your brain—is to begin including more fish in your diet, especially salmon. Just remember that not all salmon is created equal.
Compared to farm-raised Atlantic salmon, free-range sockeye salmon from the North Pacific can have as much as 800 percent more astaxanthin. Just 4 oz. of sockeye salmon has about 4.5 mg of astxanthin.
Trust me, when it comes to this important nutrient, it’s worth shelling out a little extra cash to get wild-caught salmon.
I’ll fire up the grill.