Study Says Carrots Really are Good for Your Eyes
According to new research, carrots really are good for the eyes. Along with various other vegetables such as spinach, kale and sweet potato, carrots may help to prevent some eye health problems.
What these vegetables have in common is that they contain carotenoids – pigments which give them their bright colours. The study linked carotenoids to a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration, a condition which can gradually reduce a person’s vision.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School looked at 20 years’ worth of data from the US Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which together included more than 63,000 women and almost 39,000 men who worked in healthcare. All participants were over the age of 50 at the start of the research and had not been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer. Various tests were used to assess their health and they reported the food they ate in questionnaires.
Findings showed that those who consumed the highest levels of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin had a 40% lower risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration. Those who consumed the highest levels of various other carotenoids, including alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, had a 25-35% lower risk of developing the condition.
Dark green leafy vegetables are good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, while alpha and beta-carotene can be found in carrots and sweet potato. Those who follow a healthy diet including plenty of vegetables may already be consuming enough carotenoids to help their eye health.
Juan Wu, one of the study’s authors, says: “A public health strategy of increasing the consumption of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids could be most beneficial and is compatible with current dietary guidelines.”