Research points to kale and spinach over carrots for good eye health

As we age, the probability that we’ll suffer from an eye disorder increases significantly. By age 65, about one-third of adults will have a vision impairment condition and by age 80, that percentage increases to 50% of us.

One of the most common conditions affecting older Americans is age-related macular degeneration or AMD. It’s the leading cause of blindness in adults over age 55. AMD results from the breakdown of the macula or small area in the retina at the back of the eye. Contributing factors to AMD include exposure to sunlight, smoking and even everyday contaminants in your environment.

One preventative solution to AMD are antioxidants. Research over the past decades has shown that eye health is linked closely to diet and lifestyle. Being overweight, diabetic, smoking, eating a high-fat diet and consuming alcohol excessively can all contribute to poor eye health. Eating a diet low in fruits and vegetables is also shown to be detrimental.

So, what should you eat?
We all grew up hearing that carrots were important for eye health, but there’s actually more evidence that other color foods may have an even bigger impact on our eyes. Specifically, foods that are naturally green and yellow in color have been shown as more effective at reducing the risk for AMD and cataracts than orange-colored foods.

Why does color matter?
Green and yellow fruits and vegetables are packed with two chemicals — lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that seem to protect the retina against oxidative damage and decrease the risk for AMD.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in foods containing natural fats, such as egg yolks, pistachios and avocados. Corn, spinach, squash, collard greens, kale, tomatoes and lettuce are all also good natural sources of these two nutrients.

While there is no current recommended amount of lutein and zeaxanthin to ingest to help protect your eye’s health, eating the recommended five to eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day will help to ensure that you get enough. If you have a family history of eye diseases or have any questions, please be sure to give Dr. Frank or Dr. Marczewski at call at (815) 758-1039. They would be happy to answer any of your questions.

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