How a Healthy Diet Can Improve Your Eyesight
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on December 19, 2017 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized
The notion that eating carrots will make you see in the dark sounds like an old wives’ tale that many of us have heard before – a ploy to get children to eat their vegetables. But carrots do in fact contain the rhodopsin synthesizing element of retinol (vitamin A), which forms a pigment that helps our eyes perform better in low light conditions.
So in a sense, carrots can help you see in the dark. And like many healthy fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and legumes that nature brings us, they can help improve our vision overall.
Research has proven that our diets can affect our overall eye health and some of the key nutrients required for healthy eyes includes carotenoids (such as lutein and zeaxanthin), vitamin C, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and copper. And as you might have guessed, carotenoids are found in carrots, although there are many other vegetables with a higher concentration of carotenoids that will be discussed below.
The Role of Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids found in many fruits and vegetables, and they can help to reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. They work to reduce the amount of blue light entering the retina, protecting against age-related eye disorders. Lutein and zeaxanthin also act as antioxidants for the entire body, reducing free radicals and staving off disease.
The RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) recommends that we eat a healthy and well-rounded diet in order to boost our intake of lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as other key nutrients.
Blue Light and Macula Damage
This infographic below shows us the damage caused by exposure to blue light found in everyday objects, such as smartphones, computer screens, tablets and artificial light.
The stats in the graphic also reveal that 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 will suffer from age-related macular degeneration.
That figures increases to 3 in 10 for people over the age of 75, so it’s important to preserve our eye health into old age.
Furthermore, a study conducted at Harvard University (which monitored over 100,000 people over a 20 year period) found a 40% decrease in the risk of age-related macular degeneration for participants with high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in their diet.
Superfoods and Eyesight
In today’s world where companies are cashing out on everyone’s need to be healthy, it can be easy to dismiss superfoods as a fad. But the Harvard study shows that there are amazing benefits to carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. Here are the carotenoid-rich foods according to the aforementioned infographic:.
- Kale (cooked from raw) – 18.3mg
- Cress (raw) – 12.5mg
- Spinach (cooked from raw) – 12.2mg
- Peas (cooked from raw) – 2.6mg
- Squash (cooked from raw) – 2.2mg
- Green lettuce (raw) – 1.7mg
- Brussel sprouts (cooked from raw) – 1.3mg
- Asparagus (cooked from raw) – 0.7mg
- Carrots (cooked from raw) – 0.7mg
Sign up for our newsletter and receive more articles and the latest health updates and special offers.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan