A Plateful of Eye Candy

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Loading the plate everyday with carotenoid-rich produce could save your eyes from vision loss caused by macular degeneration, according to a study from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. Data obtained from health surveys from more than 92,000 people participating in the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up study were compared to determine risk for vision loss. Results showed that people who consumed the most lutein- and zeaxanthin-rich produce had a 40% lower risk of advanced macular degeneration compared with those who ate the least amount of these carotenoids. Other carotenoids, such as alpha carotene, beta cryptoxanthin, and beta carotene, also lowered risk by up to 35%.

In Perspective: Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in dark greens. These carotenoids concentrate in the macula, where they are thought to protect it from damage from oxygen and UV light. Previous studies show that at least 10 milligrams of lutein and 2 milligrams of zeaxanthin, the amount obtained from a half to one cup of cooked greens, is needed daily. Beta carotene is found in red and orange vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and orange peppers.

Wu J, Cho E, Willett W, et al: Intakes of lutein, zeaxanthin, and other carotenoids and age-related macular degeneration during 2 decades of prospective follow-up. JAMA Ophthalmology 2015; October 8th.

 

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