Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fruits and Green Leafy Vegetables

You’ve probably heard that carrots are good for your eyes, and they are, but according to some new work out of the University of Georgia, green leafy vegetables and colored fruits are also incredibly helpful to our vision. Researchers have found that foods containing pigments known to science as carotenoids help your visual performance, and are very likely to prevent age related eye diseases.

Green Leafy Vegetables

Experts have long suspected a link between these substances and improved eye function, and the latest work, appearing in the December 2009 Journal of Food Science, offers strong support for this relationship.

The team estimates about 600 carotenoids can be identified in nature, but only a fraction of these (20 have been found in human blood) are absorbed into the body.

Carotenoids are responsible for the red, yellow and orange color of fruits (apricots, mangoes) and veggies (squash, sweet potatoes), and also the rich, dark of those leafy vegetables.

Leafy green vegetables and colored fruits are loaded with two particular carotenoids – lutein and Zeaxanthin – both playing a key role in vision, as well as having a positive impact on the retina according to the team led by Billy R. Hammond, Ph.D., a professor of neuroscience and experimental psychology at the University of Georgia.

The researchers write that their review on the effects of lutein and zeaxanthin is important because “it is clear that they could potentially improve vision through biological means.”

Interesting that lutein and zeaxanthin are also found naturally in the lens and retina of your eyes.

The current work involved the team reviewing multiple studies on the effects of these two carotenoids on vision. Lutein and zeakanthin (known to be in kale, spinach, turnip and collard greens, romaine lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, corn, garden peas and Brussels sprouts) were found to be helpful with protecting the eyes from glare, as well as enhancing contrast and cutting photostress recovery times.

They might also help to improve visual range and offer protection against dangerous free radicals that can interact with and break down healthy cells. This pair of carotenoids may also be able to filter high energy blue light, perhaps protecting the underlying cells of our eyes from damage.

The key to protecting your eyes with these helpful compounds is to be sure to get enough – Look for natural sources and take care with preparation – eat foods raw, or lightly steamed, as this helps your body effectively absorb the carotenoids.

While there isn’t a recommended dietary intake for carotenoids, most experts agree that you should try to eat five or more servings of fruits and veggies every day. This intake will provide enough of the raw nutrients your body needs, from all natural sources, to help your vision and lots of other things as well.

If you’re concerned about the health of your eyes today and as you get older, upping the amount of lutein and zeaxanthin in your diet is an effective, all natural option and something you can do today to make a difference.

Not only might you lower your risk of cataracts or age related macular degeneration by adding additional green leafy vegetables to your diet, both of which medicine can do nothing to prevent, but you’re also likely to enjoy many other benefits to your body.

Author by Kirsten Wittaker, EzineArticles.