Variation in carotenoid content of kale and other vegetables: a review of pre- and post-harvest effects

Rachel P. Walsh*, Hannah Bartlett, Frank Eperjesi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that are selectively taken up into the macula of the eye, where they are thought to protect against the development of age-related macular degeneration. They are obtained from dietary sources, with the highest concentrations found in dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale and spinach. In this Review, compositional variations due to variety/cultivar, stage of maturity, climate or season, farming practice, storage, and processing effects are highlighted. Only data from studies which report on lutein and zeaxanthin content in foods are reported. The main focus is kale; however, other predominantly xanthophyll containing vegetables such as spinach and broccoli are included. A small amount of data about exotic fruits is also referenced for comparison. The qualitative and quantitative composition of carotenoids in fruits and vegetables is known to vary with multiple factors. In kale, lutein and zeaxanthin levels are affected by pre-harvest effects such as maturity, climate, and farming practice. Further research is needed to determine the post-harvest processing and storage effects of lutein and zeaxanthin in kale; this will enable precise suggestions for increasing retinal levels of these nutrients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9677-9682
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number44
Early online date19 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • AMD
  • composition
  • lutein
  • xanthophylls
  • zeaxanthin


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