~ Why You Should Look Out for Yellow Vegetables

Daily Mail, 08-16-06

Generations of children have been told to eat up their carrots because it will help them see in the dark.

Now it seems that sweetcorn and broccoli might also be food for the sight.

Scientists have found that brightly-coloured yellow and green vegetables contain chemicals which can help protect the eyes against damage in later life.

Women under 75 who ate lots of vegetables such as peas, broccoli, squash and sweetcorn had lower rates of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

It is thought the compounds could help reduce the risk of AMD by absorbing blue light which can damage the area at the back of the retina. It might also help prevent the condition by strengthening eye membranes and mopping up molecules which can harm cells, say scientists.

AMD affects two million Britons and is the leading cause of blindness over 50. The macula is found at the centre of the retina, where incoming rays of light are focused, and is responsible for frontal vision, close-up vision and colour.

AMD occurs when the macula's cells become damaged and stop working.

There is currently no cure and only limited options to try to slow down its progression.

The study from the University of Wisconsin looked at 1,700 women between 50 and 79. It found that those under 75 were less likely to develop AMD if over the previous 15 years they consistently ate lots of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin found in leafy green vegetables, sweetcorn, squash, broccoli and peas.

The scientists, writing in the journal Archives of Ophthalmology, called for more long-term studies and clinical trials to confirm their findings.

The idea that carrots can boost the eyesight has often been dismissed as an old wives' tale. But experts say it could have some foundation in truth as carotene converts to vitamin A which along with other nutrients is vital for healthy eyes.

Barbara McLaughlan, Eye Health Consultant at the Royal National Institute of the Blind, said: 'RNIB would always recommend a healthy diet, including a variety of fruit and vegetables, to protect their sight.'

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