Myth busting – Are carrots really good for my eyes?
Everyone thinks that carrots help with eye health, but, in fact, they are of no more use to our eyes than any other vegetable.
The myth started in World War II when the Government famously responded to a temporary wartime oversupply of carrots by suggesting that the RAF’s exceptional night-flying and target success was due to eating plenty of carrots.
The ruse worked: consumption increased sharply because people thought carrots might help them see in the blackout, thus taking the pressure off other more scarce food supplies. I am sure many of us were all told by our mothers growing up that carrots can ‘help improve your eyesight’ however this is merely a myth!
What is actually good for your eyes are leafy green vegetables such as SPINACH AND KALE.
These contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD) — the most common cause of blindness in the UK.
In macular degeneration the centre part of the vision is affected, the ability the ability to read, drive a car, and even recognise familiar faces can be lost. Since there’s no treatment for dry AMD, prevention could not be more essential.
Studies have shown that those groups of people that had the highest consumption of spinach had an 86% lower chance of developing AMD as compared to the study group that had the lowest spinach consumption. This is because the more spinach you eat, the more lutein increases in the macula area (this is the part of the eye where all our detailed vision is) helping to reduce any damage that occurs over time.
It is advisable to have spinach/kale at least once a week. You can have it cooked or uncooked with some studies suggesting that the bioavailability may be increased if cooked (it gets absorbed into the blood stream more easily).
Eggs are a very useful source of both Lutein and Zeaxanthin and because of the fat contained in eggs its bioavailability is one of the highest meaning it gets absorbed easily into the blood stream.
See table below for other foods that contain Lutein and Zeaxanthin.
|Food||Lutein Trans (µg per 100 g)||Zeaxanthin Trans (µg per 100 g)|
|Green beans, cooked||306||0|
|Orange pepper, raw||208||1665|
|Lettuce, romaine, raw||3824||0|
|Pistachio nuts, raw||1405||0|
|Egg whole, cooked||237||216|
|Egg yolk, cooked||645||587|
|Egg whole, raw||288||279|
|Egg yolk, raw||787||762|
So why not try a spinach cannaloni, spinach and potato curry, or lamb and spinach curry this weekend? The creators of ‘Popeye’ certainly got one thing right, Spinach is good for you!
Written by our Optometrist Shamina Asif BSc MCOptom
Moores Opticians – looking after the health of your eyes and offering free retinal photography with each eye test making it easier to monitor the health of your eyes over time.
References: Lutein and Zeaxanthin—Food Sources, Bioavailability and Dietary Variety in Age-Related Macular Degeneration Protection, Nutrients. 2017 Feb; 9(2): 120, Bronwyn Eisenhauer,1 Sharon Natoli,1 Gerald Liew,2 and Victoria M. Flood