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Carotenoids in veggies and fruits improve eyesight and prevent eye diseases

Thursday, January 07, 2010 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: carotenoids, eyesight, health news

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(NaturalNews) Countless moms have told their children to eat their veggies -- especially carrots -- in order to help their eyesight. It turns out that "old wives' tale" is actually sound science. According to a study just published in the Journal of Food Science, a publication of the Institute of Food Technologists, the phytonutrients known as carotenoids not only may prevent age-related eye diseases but they've also been found to improve vision.

Carotenoids are the yellow, orange, and red pigments synthesized by plants and found in many colored vegetables and fruits. Some of the most common carotenoids found in plant-rich diets include alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene.

Scientists from the University of Georgia evaluated data from multiple studies to investigate the effects of two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, on visual performance. These particular carotenoids have been shown to play an important role in human vision, including helping to keep the retina healthy. The light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye, the retina works much like film in a camera and is critical for good eyesight. Images that come through the lens of the eye are focused on the retina which then converts these images to electric signals and sends them along the optic nerve to the brain.

Dr. Billy R. Hammond Jr. and his research team concluded that lutein and zeaxanthin have specific beneficial effects on visual performance. Their study found lutein and zeaxanthin can reduce disability and discomfort from glare, enhance contrast, and increase the visual range. Simply put, the phytonutrients improve vision. In addition, the carotenoids were found to reduce recovery time from photostress (how long it takes the retina to return to normal function after exposure to a flash of light). In a study published last year, Dr. Hammond Jr. also reported that adequate intake of lutein and zeaxanthin early in life could help the development of a healthy, normal visual system in children.

In a statement to the media, Dr. Hammond Jr. noted the effects of lutein and zeazanthin are important because "it is clear that they could potentially improve vision through biological means. For example, a study conducted in 2008 suggests that the pigments protect the retina and lens and perhaps even help prevent age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataract."

As NaturalNews has previously reported, researchers have recently documented that a host of foods and nutrients may protect eye health and vision. For example, fish, nuts and olive oil have been found to prevent help prevent age-related blindness (http://www.naturalnews.com/026369_olive_oil_...).

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