If your mother ever told you eating carrots would help your eyesight, she was right. But did you know that other fruits and vegetables can help too? Just in time for Healthy Vision Month, a recently published, long-term study of over 2,000 female twins showed that dietary vitamin C — in other words, vitamin C that you get from food — helps slow the progression of cataracts. So there you have it: vitamin C from fruits and vegetables may help you see even better.
Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye that impairs vision. You can have cataracts in one or both eyes, and they’re quite common when you’re older. By the age of 80, half of Americans either have cataracts or have had cataract surgery. With that statistic, there’s even more reason for dietary vitamin C.
In a study published in March in the journal Ophthalmology, researchers in the United Kingdom had 2,054 female twins, averaging 60 years of age, fill out food questionnaires to determine their intake of various nutrients. Next, they took digital images of the participants’ eyes. The eye-opening result? Women who ate diets rich in vitamin C (two servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables per day) were about 20 percent less likely to have cataracts than those who skimped on fruits and vegetables.
Researchers followed up with 324 of the women nearly a decade later and found that over time, the association between vitamin C consumption and protection from cataracts became even stronger. Those who were consuming the most vitamin C — at least twice the recommended daily allowance of 75 milligrams per day — now had a 33 percent lower risk of cataract progression than those who didn’t get as much of the nutrient.
This is great news for people who have a family history of cataracts, because the study concluded that genetics accounts for only 35 percent of cataract progression.
Environmental factors, including diet, account for the remainder. That means there are concrete steps you can take to protect your eyesight, and a good place to start is by eating fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits (oranges and grapefruit), berries (blackberries, blueberries and raspberries), papaya, dark leafy greens, and broccoli.
This is just the latest good news about fruits and vegetables’ effect on eyesight, though. Here are two more ways eating produce can benefit your vision:
A 2005 study showed that eating 4.5 ounces of carrots a day improves night vision. Carrots contain beta-carotene, which the body uses to make vitamin A, is critical for healthy vision. Sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, apricots, kale, and spinach also contain beta-carotene.
Fruits and vegetables high in two other phyto-nutrients known as lutein and zeaxanthin may help preserve the macula of the eye, which is responsible for clear central vision. Kale, spinach, broccoli, carrots, and corn are good sources of these eye-loving superstars.
One easy way to increase your intake of many important nutrients from fruits and vegetables, including beta carotin, vitamin C and lutein/zeaxanthin is Juice Plus+. Several Juice Plus+ studies have shown significant increases in these phyto-nutrients. We’ve been eating Juice Plus+ for more than 23 years and our health, including our eye health is excellent.