Fact or Myth? Are Carrots Really That Good for Your Eye Health?
By Guest Writer Emma Sturgis
Carrots have been touted as the vegetable for your eyes since the days of WWII. British pilots were encouraged to eat more carrots in order to improve their night vision after one of them attributed his impressive vision skills to his steady diet of carrots. While the truth about the link between carrots and your eyes may not be quite as spectacular, they are still a very beneficial food for protecting your vision and overall health.
Key Nutrients In Carrots
Carrots are an overall very healthy vegetable. They complement green veggies like broccoli or kale by having a slightly different nutrient profile. A nutritionist’s rule of thumb is to have a variety of color on your plate because the color of a vegetable or fruit is an indicator of the kinds of nutrients in contains.
Carrots’ traditional orange color is attributed to the high levels of beta-carotene they contain. This nutrient is the precursor to Vitamin A. Essentially, your body takes and stores beta-carotene and converts it into Vitamin A as needed. While there are other sources of Vitamin A, beta-carotene is the most common form.
Like most vitamins, Vitamin A has multiple important roles in the body, but it has been strongly linked to vision health. Deficiencies in Vitamin A have been linked to serious eye problems like macular degeneration and cataracts. Consuming plenty of Vitamin A is likely to help avoid these problems and maintain better eye health, especially as you age.
The second key nutrient in carrots is Lutein. Lutein is an antioxidant attributed to eye health. In general, antioxidants help protect cells from damage by free radicals. Different antioxidants tend to favor different parts of the body, so you can think of Lutein as the antioxidant specialized to the eyes.
One effect of a Lutein-rich diet is increased eye pigmentation in the macula. Better pigmentation protects the macula from damage, further decreasing the likelihood of macular degeneration and vision loss.
No Supplement For Professional Eye Care
Unfortunately, foods are not usually able to cure or correct health problems that have already occurred. Eating carrots may help prevent vision problems or keep them from getting worse, but they will not restore perfect vision or correct serious diseases like glaucoma.
It is important to have routine eye examinations to check for vision problems before they become serious. If you need glasses, visit professionals like those at All About Eyes, to ensure you get the proper prescription and fit that you need. No matter how many carrots you eat, you may still one day need corrective lenses or eye surgery to maintain your vision quality. By eating plenty of carrots, you can decrease your chances of vision problems, and you might need fewer trips to the eye doctor.
About The Author:
Emma is a freelance writer based in Boston, MA. She writes most often on health and education. When not writing, she enjoys reading and rock climbing. Say hi to her on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2