On the Road with Lee Swanson: Seeing is Believing
Pepper Harvest Yields Premier Zeaxanthin Ingredient, ZeaGold®
President of Swanson Health Products®
Dear Friends and Valued Customers,
You're probably familiar with lutein as an important carotenoid for eye health. But what you may not know is that lutein has a relative in nature, called zeaxanthin, which is also concentrated in the eye and plays an equally important role. In fact, lutein and zeaxanthin are "isomers;" they have the same chemical formula but are differentiated by their structure. As such, they have different affinities: while lutein is found concentrated in the retina, zeaxanthin dominates within the macula of the eye.
Many lutein supplements contain a small amount of zeaxanthin, but only one company produces all-natural zeaxanthin for supplementation. ZeaGold was developed by Kalsec, Inc., from a special variety of paprika chili peppers grown in one specific area of the US. We recently traveled to the fields to find out more about this premier dietary ingredient.
Last fall, our Director of New Product Development, Tom Audette, traveled to the Texas-New Mexico border to meet with farm manager Louis Needham and representatives of Kalsec, Inc. There he witnessed firsthand the capsicum (paprika pepper) harvest and the production of ZeaGold. Read about our adventure and learn more about this important yet underappreciated nutrient below.
"Rejected" Peppers Lead to Nutraceutical Breakthrough
ZeaGold® is extracted from a special strain of peppers grown in Texas by Kalsec, a vertically integrated company that controls every step of production from seed to final processing. Years ago, Kalsec officials noticed that the paprika peppers grown in a small area in West Texas had a distinct yellow-orange color that was not typical of the same peppers grown in other areas. This "off color" made these peppers less suitable for their intended purpose as a coloring agent, so they tasked their chemists with discovering the cause.
It turned out that this pepper had an unusually high concentration of zeaxanthin, which is responsible for the yellow/orange color. Kalsec scientists spent years developing a hybrid of this pepper that now yields up to 10 times more zeaxanthin than the original "off color" peppers.
From Seed to Supplement—Controls Guarantee Quality
With four hundred acres committed to the special peppers that become ZeaGold, Kalsec Field Production Farm Manager Louis Needham oversees all phases of crop production. As the peppers are harvested, they are transported to the processing plant where Plant Manager Jarrod Chestnut oversees initial processing and transport for the final extraction as ZeaGold.
After visiting the fields and witnessing the early stages of production, Swanson's Tom Audette believes there's no better guarantee of quality than Kalsec's vertically integrated operation. "They control every step—seed, planting, harvesting and processing—with the sole intention of producing dietary zeaxanthin. Kalsec's focused, thoroughly controlled system provides the ultimate quality assurance. I know we've made the right choice for our zeaxanthin supplements."
If you're looking to support your eye health with focused dietary support, make the right choice—choose Swanson brand supplements with ZeaGold Natural Zeaxanthin. We've witnessed the production and we've experienced the results. When it comes to ZeaGold, seeing really is believing.
A specialized pepper harvester in operation in one of the fields that comprise the 400 acres under contract by Kalsec to grow this specific paprika pepper exclusively to produce ZeaGold® Zeaxanthin.
Swanson's Tom Audette, Director of New Product Marketing (left), and Kalsec's farm manager, Louis Needham (right) in the paprika fields.
Dried and ground pepper powder awaiting further processing to make ZeaGold® Zeaxanthin extract. The orange color of this powder is distinctive of this unique paprika pepper.