Do carrots improve your eye health?
There is a long history of connecting eating carrots with an improvement in eyesight and there is some truth to it.
Carrots contain beta carotene, the red-orange pigment called carotenoid found in plants and fruits that give them their color. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A and vitamin A is necessary for the healthy functioning of the eyes.
So, carrots absolutely will contribute to overall eye health, but eating carrots will not improve eyesight. Eye health and eyesight are separate functions. Eyes can be very healthy but still need vision correction for near-sightedness, far-sightedness, and astigmatisms. Vitamins will not affect refractive errors and eliminate the need for glasses.
Vitamin A and Eye Health
Vitamin A combines with protein to form the light-sensitive receptor protein rhodopsin which is necessary for both low-light and color vision. Vitamin A also plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy corneas—the clear outside covering over your eye.
Antioxidants in Eye Health
Antioxidants minimize free radicals and oxidative stress
Free radicals are formed when oxygen-containing molecules lose an electron and become unstable. This causes a chain chemical reaction called oxidation. Oxidation is a normal and necessary process that is part of your natural metabolism as your body converts food into energy. It is only when the balance between oxidation and antioxidants is out of balance that oxidative stress occurs.
When there are more free radicals being formed than can be kept in check by circulating antioxidants then there is an overgrowth of free radicals that create chain reactions and the cycle of oxidative stress starts, doing damage to fatty tissue, DNA, and proteins in your body.
Protecting Yourself from Oxidative Stress
You can’t eliminate oxidative stress, but you can minimize it by increasing the levels of food in your diet that are high in antioxidants, such as:
- Red Cabbage
*This list is only partial and just an example of some of the many foods high in antioxidants.
Your body is also exposed to free radicals from environmental sources such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, and UV rays, so limiting your exposure to these environmental sources will reduce your oxidative stress load.
Eating a balanced diet that includes lots of colorful vegetables and fruits will equip you with the antioxidants you need for optimum functioning.
The color of the vegetable or fruit is an indication of the type of antioxidants and phytochemical compounds in the vegetable or fruit. For example, blue and purple hues indicate high levels of anthocyanin, red indicates lycopene content, while orange and yellow indicate high levels of carotenoids, and green indicates high levels of chlorophyll—a source of vitamin A, C, E, and K.