A diet rich in dark green leafy vegetables could protect your eyes from developing glaucoma, according to a study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Approximately 64,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 41,000 people from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study were included in the study. During the 25-year-follow up, almost 1,500 people developed glaucoma. Risk was compared to consumption of dark green leafy vegetables, with intakes divided into five categories from highest to lowest. Those people who included the most dark green leafies in their diets averaged about 1.5 servings (about 1 ½ cups) a day. Those eating the least amount averaged one serving every three days. Results showed that those people consuming the most dark green leafies every day had a 20% to 30% lower risk of glaucoma.
In Perspective: Previous research shows that dark greens are an excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that lower the risk for macular degeneration and cataracts. Greens also are a source of nitrates, which boost nitric oxide levels in the blood, which improves blood flow. There is data that people with glaucoma have impaired nitric oxide production in the eyes. Future research needs to clarify if one of or a combination of these benefits is the reason why dark greens lower glaucoma risk.
Kang J: JAMA Ophthalmology, online January 14th, 2016.