Q: Do carrots really help your eyesight? Both my wife and I have had cataract surgery. Is there anything that we can eat to help protect our vision? ~ V.O., Bath, OH
A: Carrots contain lutein (LOO-teen) and zeaxanthin (zee-uh-ZAN-thin) which are nutrients that may protect the eyes. Lutein and zeaxanthin are xanthophylls that belong to the carotenoid family of organic pigments. Xanthophylls are found naturally in plants and give fruits and vegetables their pretty colors. They are found in the flesh of the fruit and vegetable as well as in the leaves.
Cataracts and ARMD
Eat Your Veggies
Be sure to eat at least five to nine servings of colorful fruits and vegetables daily to consume adequate amounts of lutein + zeaxanthin (about 6 mg per day) in addition to other healthful nutrients. These eye-friendly compounds can be found in the following:
- Yellow/deep orange foods – Egg yolks, carrots, orange juice, peaches, squash, sweet potatoes, persimmons, tangerines, orange bell peppers, corn, cantaloupe, mango, apricots
- Dark, green leafy vegetables – Kale, spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, romaine lettuce, beet greens
- Brussels sprouts, broccoli, zucchini, garden peas, avocado, asparagus, kiwi fruit, grapes
Lutein and zeaxanthin and their potential roles in disease prevention. Antioxidants Research Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, 711 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111, USA.
The potential role of dietary xanthophylls in cataract and age-related macular degeneration. Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.
Associations between lutein, zeaxanthin, and age-related macular degeneration. Department of Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.