Use This Simple Trick for Sharp, Healthy Vision
Quick… Which wisecracking, vegetable-munching cartoon character from your childhood would probably have the best vision in real life?
If you guessed a certain “wascally wabbit,” you’d agree with most people. But there’s an even better answer.
Popeye chowed down on spinach to strengthen his muscles… but it would have done even more for his eyes.
You see, carrots are high in Beta-carotene. Your body converts Beta-carotene into vitamin A. And vitamin A is an important antioxidant in your eyes. So carrots are good for eyes.
But good vision depends even more on two other nutrients: lutein (L) and zeaxanthin (Z).
They make up your eyes’ most important protective filter. And carrots aren’t a great source of either.
But spinach is.
I’ve written about L and Z before, but I’d like to share some information that’s often overlooked about these nutrients. And how to get the most benefit from them.
In your eyes, L and Z combine into an oily yellow substance called macular pigment. This pigment acts like a pair of natural sunglasses. It filters out damaging UV light before it hits your delicate retinal cells.
Macular pigment is also responsible for seeing bright colors and detailed central vision. Without it, UV rays would quickly burn out your retina… leaving you sightless. So you want those “sunglasses” to be thick and strong.
Eating spinach regularly provides your body with the raw materials it needs for thick, healthy macular pigment. Kale and broccoli are other good sources. But spinach has been tested several times… so we know best that it works.
For example, doctors at the University of Tennessee tested spinach in a 12-week trial.
They had two groups of people eat 50 grams (about 1.75 ounces) of spinach 5 times a week. One group ate spinach that was high in L and Z. The second group ate spinach that was low in these two nutrients.
The doctors also measured each volunteer’s macular pigment before and after the 12 weeks. The group eating the high-L and Z spinach had denser macular pigment at the end of the trial. The low-L and Z group didn’t.1
A 2010 French study showed that people who get 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day – with at least two servings of high-L and Z foods per week – tend to have denser macular pigment. They also found that L and Z supplements have a similar effect.2
You should be getting a variety of vegetables anyway, so why not work spinach, kale and broccoli into the mix? Just two servings a week could help promote years of better vision.
Finally, if you don’t like spinach and kale, consider taking a nutritional supplement that’s high in lutein and zeaxanthin. It’s inexpensive insurance.
Yours in continued good health,
Dr Kenneth Woliner, M.D.
1 Kopsell, D.A., et al, “Spinach cultigen variation for tissue carotenoid concentrations influences human serum carotenoid levels and macular pigment optical density following a 12-week dietary intervention,” J Agric Food Chem. Oct 18, 2006; 54(21): 7998-8005.
2 Cohen, S.Y., et al, “Impact of eating habits on macular pathology assessed by macular pigment optical density measure,” J Fr Ophtalmol. Apr 2010; 33(4): 234-240.