(NaturalNews) Cataract is the top cause of impaired vision and blindness in the United States. The lens of the eyes is normally transparent, but when its protein structure is subjected to free radical or oxidative damage which it cannot deal with, white and opaque blemishes called cataracts could form, leading to gradual vision loss. This clouding is similar to what happens when the protein in egg whites is heated. Examples of such damage to the eyes include exposure to cigarette smoke or sunlight. The more stress the eyes are put under, the more crucial nutrients and antioxidants they would need to deal with it. It thus follows that good nutrition is critical to preventing cataracts and even reversing early-stage ones.
Even with surgical removal of cataracts, good nutrition is still important, as the nutritional deficiencies which caused them are still present and need to be addressed to prevent further cataracts or even other diseases.
Bilberry contains compounds which boost visual acuity. In Italy, a study found that a mixture of these compounds, called anthocyanosides, and vitamin E stopped the progression of lens clouding in over 95 percent of study subjects with early-stage cataract. Back during World War I, British pilots actually ate bilberries before flying to improve their vision. Read more about how bilberry benefits the eyes here.
Blueberry, cranberry, blackberry, grape, raspberry and wild cherry also contain similar compounds which improve vision.
Carrots are often associated with improving vision. Indeed, carotenoids, compounds found in carrots which give this vegetable its distinctive orange color (eg beta-carotene), do indeed help to prevent cataracts. They help to prevent cancer and cardiovascular ailments, too.
Other good sources of carotenoids are fruits and vegetables which are orange, yellow and dark green in color.
Onions are an excellent source of quercetin, a compound which research has found to help prevent cataracts in diabetics, a benefit which likely extends to non-diabetics as well.
While cooking with onions, you may want to leave their skin on so as to allow the most amount of quercetin to enter your food.
Purslane is an excellent anti-cataract food because it contains many of the nutrients which help to prevent this condition. These include carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E plus other antioxidants, including glutathione, a potent one.
Glutathione is actually found in high concentrations in the lens of the eyes, where it plays an important role in keeping it healthy. Other than functioning as a protective antioxidant, glutathione also helps to maintain the structure of lens proteins, plays a role in various enzyme systems, plus takes part in the transport of amino acids and minerals. According to Marc Grossman, OD, an optometrist and licensed acupuncturist, "the majority of the cataracts that I see are low in the antioxidant glutathione."
One key way to increase glutathione levels is to consume lots of raw fruits and vegetables, as their cooked counterparts contain markedly less glutathione.
Turmeric is another food which contains good amounts of carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E and other antioxidants.
Brazil nuts contain vitamin E and selenium, another nutrient which helps to prevent or inhibit cataracts.
Spinach is an excellent source of lutein, which helps to promote healthy vision plus prevent cataracts and macular degeneration (read about macular degeneration remedies here). Spinach also contains carotenoids and helps to protect against cancer.
Wheat germ oil is a good source of vitamin E. You could also load up on other high-antioxidant foods, including yams, leafy green vegetables, broccoli, as well as fresh fruits like citrus fruits and dark-colored berries, to offer your eyes added protection.
Sources for this article include:
Murray, Michael, ND., Pizzorno, Joseph, ND., and Pizzorno, Lara, MA, LMT. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books, 2005. Print.
Gottlieb, Bill. Alternative Cures: The Most Effective Natural Home Remedies for 160 Health Problems. Rodale, 2000. Print.
Duke, James A., PhD. The Green Pharmacy. New York, NY: Rodale, 1997. Print.
About the author: Reuben Chow has a keen interest in natural health and healing as well as personal growth.