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Why Carrots Really Are Good for Your Eyes

New research from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health suggests that the more colorful fruits and vegetables we eat, the lower the risk of advanced macular degeneration (AMD), a serious age-related vision problem that can lead to blindness. Researchers gathered data from health surveys that tracked more than 63,000 women and nearly 39,000 men all of whom were nurses or other health professionals aged 50 and older. They found that from the mid-1980s until 2010 about 2.5 percent of the survey respondents developed intermediate or advanced forms of macular degeneration. Compared to those who reported consuming the least amount of produce providing the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, those who consumed the most had a 40 percent lower risk of advanced AMD. These carotenoids are the pigments responsible for the orange color of carrots, sweet potatoes and some peppers as well as the deep greens of broccoli, kale and spinach. The researchers noted that lutein and zeaxanthin concentrate in the macula, where they are thought to protect against the damaging effects of oxygen and light. While the study showed a link between consumption of fruits and vegetables containing carotenoids and a lower risk of AMD, it didn’t prove cause and effect. The researchers saw no association between carotenoids and the intermediate form of macular degeneration.

 

My take: These new findings add weight to existing evidence that lutein and zeaxanthin provide benefits for your eyes. In addition to lowering the risk of AMD, lutein also helps protect against cataracts, and there is evidence suggesting that both carotenoids may also help prevent atherosclerosis. One of the best lifestyle habits you can adopt to prevent eye disorders and heart disease is to make sure that your diet contains lots of lutein-rich fruits and vegetables. In addition to the produce listed above, you can get zeaxanthin in oranges, corn and honeydew melon. Egg yolks also contain both lutein and zeaxanthin.  

Worried About Your Eyesight?

Lutein is a carotenoid that can help to protect the eyes. Find out if you should take it, and what foods are good sources.

If you or someone you know is getting on in years, you may want to consider supplementing your diet with lutein. Lutein and another carotenoid, zeaxanthin, form the yellow pigment of the retina and absorb blue light, which is a potentially harmful component of sunlight. There is very good evidence that the lutein in food helps protect against cataracts and macular degeneration, which are common age-related eye disorders. The best thing you can do for your eyes this month, and in the future, is to make sure your diet contains plenty of lutein-rich produce, including:

Fruits - mangoes, watermelon and tomatoes are good sources of lutein

Vegetables - corn, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, squash and dark leafy greens (such as kale, collards and bok choy) provide lutein

In addition to the foods listed above, you can get zeaxanthin from orange bell peppers, oranges, and honeydew melon. I recommend eating five to seven servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day. If you are unable to get adequate lutein through your diet, you may want to consider a vision-supportive supplement; talk with your doctor.

3 Ways to Prevent Blindness

Keeping your vision as clear as possible is vital – but an unhealthy lifestyle and diet can be detrimental to your eyesight. Try adding these three simple suggestions to your daily routine to help prevent macular degeneration and other vision concerns. 

The leading cause of blindness in those over the age of 60 - affecting more than 13 million Americans - is macular degeneration. The health of the macula (an oval spot in the center of the retina that's essential for central vision) depends on a very rich blood supply, and anything that interferes with circulation can cause damage to the macula and decrease its ability to function.

Unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices can reduce the supply of oxygen and vital nutrients to the eye, eventually leading to the death of cells in the retina and macula. To help prevent macular degeneration and other vision problems, consider the following: 

1. Stop smoking. The nicotine in tobacco smoke can decrease blood supply by causing a narrowing of the blood vessels and a thickening of the blood. You should also avoid secondhand smoke.

2.  Eat a diet low in sugar, flour and oxidized oils (such as soybean oils used in processed foods and deep-fat frying). These can contribute to plaque build-up along blood vessel walls, including those supplying the macula, which impedes blood flow.

3. Get enough antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E and lutein. These antioxidant compounds may help prevent plaque from sticking to the blood vessel walls, lessening the risk of damage to the tissue.

Youthful Looking Eyes in 6 Steps

If eye wrinkles, puffiness or dark circles are bothering you, skip the invasive procedures and try these effective, natural techniques for firmer, brighter eyes!

  1. Don't resort to invasive procedures for youthful-looking eyes - try these simple steps:
  2. Wear sunscreen. Ultraviolet rays can weaken collagen, causing premature wrinkling and sagging.
  3. Invest in quality sunglasses. Look for ones that block out UVA and UVB rays.
  4. Don't smoke. It affects the blood supply that keeps skin tissue looking healthy and supple.
  5. Use a moisturizer for hydration.
  6. Consider a vitamin A cream, which can help prevent wrinkles and minimize ones you already have.
  7. Cool down inflammation around your eyes. Puffy eyes can be addressed with cucumber slices, cold spoons or chilled teabags.