by, Tammy McKillip
Most people know to wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from harmful UVA and UVB sun rays, but did you know that lengthy exposure to digital devices and other artificial light sources can also damage your eyesight? It’s true. In fact, on the color spectrum ranging from red to blue, blue light is the most hazardous to your eyesight.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Blue Vibes
While the long wavelengths in red lights contain low frequency vibrations that are less damaging to the part of the retina known as the macula (the portion of your retina in charge of protecting your eyesight), the shorter wavelengths in blue light vibrate at a much higher rate and can cause significant damage to the macula’s yellow pigmentation. This macular degeneration, considered incurable, is the leading cause of vision loss.
One in 10 people over the age of 65 and three in 10 over the age of 75 are afflicted with advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Because there is no cure for AMD, ensuring the health of your eyesight is a matter of prevention. By the time your vision becomes noticeably impaired by AMD, the damage may be irreversible. Luckily, the best recipe for fighting the blues and preventing AMD is as easy as creating your weekly shopping list!
Nutrients to Support Eye-Health
A well-balanced diet that will promote macula health includes foods with lutein and zeaxanthin—two antioxidant carotenoids that are found in a healthy retina. Since our bodies cannot produce as much lutein and zeaxanthin as they need, eating foods rich in these carotenoids can help to prevent or delay the onset of AMD. There is no recommended daily allowance for carotenoids, but studies indicate consuming at least 10 mg per day of these nutrients can have significant eye-health benefits. As a matter of fact, a recent Harvard University study concluded that people who consumed enough lutein and zeaxanthin were 40 percent less likely to suffer from advanced AMD. Though over-the-counter supplements of lutein and zeaxanthin are available, the best and easiest source of these nutrients are found on the vegetable aisle in your local grocery store. Packed with healthy carotenoids and other important nutrients, these vegetables are truly superfoods!
Superfoods that Fight AMD
- Kale—with 18.3 mg lutein and zeaxanthin per 100 grams serving, raw or cooked fresh kale ranks first in eye-protecting nutrients. This superior superfood is also low-cal, no-fat, and rich in fiber, iron, Vitamin K, anti-oxidants, calcium, and Vitamin A. In addition to helping fend off macular degeneration, Kale also provides cardiovascular support, is an anti-inflammatory agent, and aids in the body’s detoxification. Best of all, it’s green, leafy, and delicious!
- Cress—When consumed raw, a serving of garden cress provides 12.5 mg of AMD-battling carotenoids, in addition to potential cancer-fighting metabolites, Vitamin C, and cardiovascular protection in the form of Vitamin K. Another key nutrient in garden cress is Glucotropaeolin, which may help fight tooth decay.
- Spinach—Raw spinach contains 2.2 mg of lutein and zeaxanthin per serving, and cooked spinach has 11.3. Considered one of the world’s healthiest foods, spinach also contains an abundance of Vitamins K, A, B-2, B-6, E, C, B-1, and B-3, as well as manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, calcium, potassium, fiber, phosphorus, zinc, protein, and Omega 3 fatty acids. Now, that’s a superfood!
- Peas—Each 100-gram serving of peas contains 2.6 mg of sight-saving carotenoids. A reliable source of Omega 3 fatty acids, low-fat peas fight inflammation and are a rich source of antioxidants.
- Squash—Containing 2.2 mg carotenoids per serving, cooked-from-raw squash is also low in saturated fats, sodium, and cholesterol and is an excellent source of protein, fiber, Vitamin C, K, B-6, and A. Additionally, this colorful vegetable is chock full of folate, magnesium, potassium, and magnesium—all super reasons to eat this superfood!
- Green Lettuce—With 1.7 mg lutein and zeaxanthin per 100-gram serving, green lettuce is an excellent source of fiber and Vitamin A.
- Brussel Sprouts—Fresh sprouts contain 1.3 mg carotenoids in each serving. Full of fiber, Vitamin C, and sulfur, Brussel sprouts may help protect DNA and fight cancer by detoxifying the body’s cells. Not only will eating Brussel sprouts help protect your eyesight, you’ll also be defending your body against inflammation and oxidative stress because the vegetable is rich in glocosinolates, Vitamin K, and Omega 3 fatty acids.
- Asparagus—Fresh asparagus contains .7 mg AMD-fighting carotenoids in each serving. Rich in a wide variety of vitamins, especially Vitamin K, this super-vegetable fights the inflammation and cellular oxidation that are often the cause of chronic health problems like diabetes and heart disease.
- Carrots—Raw or cooked-from-raw carrots contain .7 mg of carotenoids per serving and are full of healthy antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients. A study at The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) concluded that women who consume raw carrots twice per week are less likely to suffer from glaucoma than those who eat carrots only once per week. What’s up, Doc? Thumbs up, for carrots!
For more information on eye health and preventing AMD, visit Focus.