Dark, leafy greens help shield eyes from cataracts

December 8, 2004 in Nutrition for Older Adults, Nutrition Topics in the News

Dark, leafy greens help shield eyes from cataracts

New research provides further evidence that substances in kale, spinach and other green vegetables help protect aging eyes from cataracts.

In an experiment, investigators found that human eye cells treated with antioxidants called lutein and zeaxanthin showed less damage after being exposed to ultraviolet rays, the sunlight ingredient considered a major contributor to cataracts. Cataracts occur when proteins in the eye's lens begin to clump together, forming a milky cloud that obscures vision. Currently, around 20 million Americans have cataracts, and research suggests that the more sunlight you are exposed to in life, the greater your risk.

It's hard to say how much of each antioxidant people should get in their diets, given that little is known about how antioxidants in the bloodstream reach the eyes, study author Dr. Joshua A. Bomser told Reuters Health. "While the specific experiments haven't been done...we know generally: eat more fruits and vegetables," he said.

Foods that contain particularly high doses of lutein and zeaxanthin include kale, collard greens, broccoli, turnip greens and spinach.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.