An antioxidant-rich diet may help protect against the leading cause of blindness in the United States: macular degeneration.
A recent study has shown that higher levels of antioxidants in our system may extend the life of photoreceptors and other retinal cells. These are cells that, once damaged, are unable to be repaired. In experiments using visual cells from humans, rats and cows, researchers at Brigham Young University and Weill Medical College of Cornell University showed that antioxidants prevent damage in retinal cells lacking healthy nutrients.
Processed sugar, which elevates blood glucose levels, is directly associated with the development of macular degeneration. Cakes and cookies, white bread, sodas, even certain vitamin enhanced waters sweetened with sugar or corn syrup are to blame. Complex carbohydrates found in brown riceand whole grains don’t cause over-elevated glucose levels and do not contribute to the disease. While the exact mechanism is unknown, researchers suggest that high blood glucose levels are harmful to the retina and foods high in processed sugars may cause oxidative stress and inflammation.
To prevent retinal problems, consume more SuperFoods that contain high levels of antioxidants and the two key nutrients: lutein and zeaxanthin. These key nutrients have been shown to be particularly effective in combating macular degeneration. Orange bell peppers, pumpkin, yams, carrots and winter squash are high in zeaxanthin. Lutein is found in dark green veggies like spinach, kale and broccoli.
For more information on eye health, read The Eyes Have It: SuperFoods & Eye Health.
Brigham Young University