Does Green Leafy Vegetables Improves Your Eyesight and Eye Health? (Distinguish between reality and myth)
Green leafy vegetables are not only believed to be an important part of a healthy diet but are considered to be best for enhancing your eyesight through its phytonutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin (carotenoids).
But, still the truth behind this need to be revealed with supportive facts and evidence. Let’s explore whether green leafy vegetables improve eyesight or not, and differentiate between reality and myth.
Green leafy vegetables (GLVs) are believed to be a blessing for safe and a healthier life. These vegetables are being popular day by day due to increased awareness among consumers about natural and organic food. They can be used in both fresh forms as a salad or in the form of cooked/processed one. These are considered to be rich sources of nutrients such as ascorbic acid, vitamin K, magnesium, beta-carotene flavonoids with high fiber, low caloric value, and low lipids. Green vegetables are also considered to be good for eyesight and age-related eye diseases.
SOME SURVEYS EXPLORING GREEN DIET-EYE HEALTH RELATIONSHIP
Randomized controlled trials (RCT) in the USA in 3640 individuals
Daily, long-term supplementation with vitamin C (500 mg), vitamin E (400 international units (IU)), beta-carotene (15 mg), zinc (80 mg, as zinc oxide), and copper (2 mg, as cupric oxide) reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) from 28% to 20%. This proves that green leafy vegetables could also reduce AMD to some extent.
Simple nutrition education intervention with the parents for night blindness in coastal area of Bangladesh
When parents were given nutritional education to grow leafy green vegetables containing a high source of vitamin in their garden the rate of night blindness among children drops from 4.1% to 0.47%. There were not any cases of night blindness in the study population after a certain intervention period.
A multi-center eye disease case-control study in the US
This study revealed that higher dietary intake of carotenoids i.e. lutein and zeaxanthin is associated with reduction of cataracts and AMD. This proves that green leafy vegetables have the potentiality to reduce eye problems with the help of its compound.
National Food Survey
This survey revealed that people of ages 40 to 59 who had consumed higher intakes of lutein are at a lower risk of developing advanced AMD.
American Optometric Association (AOA) and the American Academy of Opthalmology (AAO) have recommended a higher intake of green leafy vegetables to improve eye health.
TRUTH BEHIND GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES FOR EYESIGHT AND EYE HEALTH
GREEN AND LEAFY VEGETABLES FOR EYESIGHT
Although some fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids, the precursors of vitamin A, there is still a dearth of evidence that exactly proves green leafy vegetables improve eye defects and promotes eye health.
Many ophthalmologists and optometrists consider that myopia cannot be cured but can be reversed. But, the use of certain fruits and vegetables in your diet along with eye exercise could control myopia and prevents it from worsening.
Recommended food and related nutrients to control myopia
- Fresh fruits like Carrot- Vitamin A, beta-carotene, and Fluoride.
- Almonds, avocados, brown rice, cashew, lentils, and wheat bread- Magnesium.
- Brazil nuts, shrimps, and brown rice- Selenium.
- Onions and tomatoes- Chromium (Balance intraocular eye pressure).
- Fortified milk, orange juice, yogurt, cheese- Vitamin D.
- Lemons, tomatoes, strawberries, gooseberry- Vitamin C.
According to medical science, there is not any evidence of supplements that could cure hyperopia. Eyeglasses, contact lenses, and LASIK surgery are only measures to cure farsightedness as per ophthalmology.
However, recent scientific research has confirmed that adding green leafy vegetables in your dietary plan could control these defects from worsening.
Recommended food and related nutrients to control hyperopia
- Grape seed extract- possesses antioxidant properties that destroy free radicals which cause damage to cornea and eye muscles.
- Kale, spinach and collard greens contain a high level of lutein and zeaxanthin (only carotenoids of eye).
- Citrus fruits, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries- Vitamin C.
- Orange juice, Kiwis, cereals, and Broccoli- Vitamin D.
- Yogurt, milk, tofu, or cottage cheese- Calcium.
- Spinach, avocados, almonds, and cashews- Magnesium.
- Flax- Omega-3 essential fatty acid.
GREEN AND LEAFY VEGETABLES FOR EYE HEALTH
Incorporating green leafy vegetables in your daily meals could be beneficial if it is practiced parallel with eye exercise, and proper healthy and balanced diet for our eye health.
Cataract and its prevention
Clumps of protein (cataract) may form on the surface of the lens of eyes which limit the light passing into eyes. Many studies have predicted that green leafy vegetables could prevent cataracts.
Recommended green leafy vegetables for prevention of cataract
Watercress is a highly recommended leafy vegetable as it contains vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, B6, B12, C, K, iron, calcium, magnesium, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are only compound among the 20 carotenoids that are found in the visual system. They reduce disability from glare, enhance contrast, and reduce photo stress recovery time.
Supplements (amount) recommended for preventing cataract
American Optometric Association has recommended the following amount of nutrients per day:
- Vitamin C- greater or at least equal to 250 mg.
- Vitamin E- greater or at least equal to 100 International unit (IU)
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin (combined)- 6.9 mg
It refers to the deterioration of macula or retina’s focal point. This condition is one of the problems that arises usually with the age.
Antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin present in green leafy vegetables are found to be highly beneficial to prevent free radicals in your eyes that might kill healthy cells.
Recommended green leafy vegetables for prevention of macular degeneration
- Collard greens
Along with these leafy vegetable intakes of fruits like berries containing antioxidants, nuts and flax seeds are evident to be highly beneficial.
Supplements (amount) recommended for reducing macular degeneration
National Eye Institute (NEI) has suggested the following nutrients and their amount to reduce this age-related macular degeneration by 25%.
- Vitamin C- 500 mg
- Vitamin E- 400 IU
- beta-carotene- 15 mg
- Zinc- 80 mg ( in the form of zinc oxide)
- Copper- 2 mg (in the form of cupric oxide)
Carotenoids present in eyes such as lutein and zeaxanthin help to filter blue rays reaching your eyes and thus, prevent retinal damage.
But, there is no such evidence that proves these compounds found in leafy vegetables could benefit the human eye when it is ingested. However, there is a possibility that it may lower the risk of digital eye-stain.
TOP 10 FOODS RECOMMENDED FOR IMPROVING EYE HEALTH AND PREVENTING EYE DEFECTS & DISEASES
Flax seeds ( as a supplement of fish and fish oil for Omega-3 supplements)
Almonds and Cashews (For magnesium)
Spinach (For multivitamin supplements)
Carrots (Vitamin A or beta-carotene and fluoride)
Grapes (High anti-oxidant properties)
Bell peppers (best for macular degeneration)
Blueberries (For vitamin C)
Kale (For multivitamin supplements)
Broccoli (for multivitamin supplements)
Sweet potatoes (For Vitamin A)
- Lawrenson, J. G., & Downie, L. E. (2019). Nutrition and Eye Health.
- Yusuf, H. K., & Islam, M. N. (1994). Improvement of night blindness situation in children through simple nutrition education intervention with the parents. Ecology of food and nutrition, 31(3-4), 247-256.
- Abdel-Aal, E. S. M., Akhtar, H., Zaheer, K., & Ali, R. (2013). Dietary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids and their role in eye health. Nutrients, 5(4), 1169-1185.
Although eyesight defects such as myopia, hyperopia, cataract, and age-related macular degeneration cannot be cured completely; they could be controlled and prevented to some extent by the intake of the above-mentioned food species and following a medical procedure such as wearing glasses, using the lens and having medical eye surgery.
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