PODCAST. Can what you eat affect your eyes, particularly the risk for age-related macular degeneration or what’s called AMD? Several nutritional factors may influence the development and progression of AMD. Let’s talk about three things you can do from a diet standpoint to help keep your eyes healthy now and in the years to come.
Do you have family members or friends who have lost a significant part of their vision? Have they been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration? It damages the macula…that part of the retina responsible for central vision. At this time, there is no cure. But the good news is…your diet can play a part in preventing it. Certain foods can help protect against both the development and progression of AMD.
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A major study in the news you may have heard of called The Age-Related Eye Disease Study known as AREDS found that a precise supplement combination of antioxidants and minerals which included vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper helped keep patients who already had intermediate AMD from developing the advanced form. The follow-up study, AREDS 2, found that lutein and zeaxanthin were better than beta-carotene, which has been linked to lung cancer.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are two yellow-orange-red pigments who have a fancy name called carotenoids (kuh-RAH-teh-noids) and they act as antioxidants in the body. They’re found in numerous vegetables. And guess what…lutein and zeaxanthin are also found in the macula, giving its yellowish color and helping to protect it from the damaging effects of blue light, which may be one factor in the development of AMD.
Where do you find lutein and zeaxanthin in food? Some fabulous sources include:
- Swiss chard
- Mustard and turnip greens
- Summer squash
- Green peas
Be sure and check out our recipes for Beans and Greens or our Swiss Frittata Muffins. These are a staple in our home. Remember that cooked spinach is one of the best natural food sources of lutein and zeaxanthin and I substitute spinach for the asparagus frequently.