Eating leafy greens could protect your eyesight
Vision loss beyond age 60 is most commonly caused by a condition called macular degeneration. This disease is one which progresses gradually and the symptom of vision loss may not be seen until a person is in their 60s, 70s or older. There is no cure for the vision loss caused by macular degeneration, but as recent research has discovered, lifestyle factors could play a big role in preventing it.
You may have read my column in July showing that people who eat an orange per day are less likely to develop macular degeneration later in life. This article was based on a study published by researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia.
These same researchers have published another analysis of their data, which now looks at the potential link between eating leafy greens and a person’s risk of developing macular degeneration. This study reanalyzed data from 2,000 Australian adults aged 50 and older and examined their rate of developing macular degeneration over a 15-year period.
The results of the study showed that people who ate 100 to 142 milligrams of vegetable nitrates per day had a 35 per cent lower risk of developing early stages of age-related macular degeneration, compared with people who ate less than 69 milligrams per day of vegetable nitrates.
“This is the first time the effects of dietary nitrates on macular degeneration risk has been measured. Essentially we found that people who ate 100 to 142 mgs of vegetable nitrates every day had a reduced risk of developing early signs of macular degeneration compared with people who ate fewer nitrates,” said lead researcher Bamini Gopinath from the University of Sydney.
“If our findings are confirmed, incorporating a range of foods rich in dietary nitrates — like green leafy vegetables and beetroot — could be a simple strategy to reduce the risk of early macular degeneration,” added Gopinath.
Vegetables that are rich in nitrates include celery, cress, chervil, lettuce, red beetroot and spinach, to name a few. Additionally, uncooked vegetables are higher in nitrate content.
While there is currently no cure for macular degeneration, the role of lifestyle factors in its prevention is becoming clearer over time. As mentioned earlier, research from this same group of scientists published in July showed that people who eat an orange per day are significantly less likely to develop macular degeneration. The early evidence is pointing to dietary choices having a very real role in the prevention of macular degeneration and, in general, a higher intake of fresh fruit and vegetables reducing this risk.
Do you have questions about natural methods of preventing macular degeneration? Ask your naturopathic doctor.
Eating a healthy diet of leafy greens could help prevent macular degeneration.