Healing Kitchen

Although statistics reveal that cataracts will probably affect more than 50% of all Americans aged 65 and older, recent studies indicate that consuming certain foods may indeed reduce your susceptibility to developing cataracts. Foods that are rich in selenium, vitamin C and vitamin E, may help to protect you against cataract by reducing free radical damage. Free radical damage resulting from oxidizing agents is implicated in cataract development. Another good reason to eat your fruit and vegetables: studies show that a diet rich in lutein, a carotenoid found in vegetables and fruits, protects cells in the eye against oxidative damage. People with low blood levels of antioxidants (and those who eat few antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables) may be at high risk for cataracts. As oxidative damage is closely linked to the cause of cataract development, it would be wise to start eating foods rich in antioxidants as a preventative measure. Though evidence is currently inconclusive, there is speculation that foods rich in anthocyanins may also help to prevent cataracts. Some studies have shown a relationship between foods rich in beta-carotene and a lower risk of cataracts, though it still remains unclear whether beta-carotene protects the eye or whether beta-carotene is merely a marker for other protective factors in fruit and vegetables high in beta-carotene. Low blood levels of riboflavin (many people as they get older become deficient in this important vitamin) have been linked to cataract development. Other nutritional substances such as curcumin, a compound found in the spice turmeric, as well as the flavonoid quercetin, have also been shown to help in the dietary prevention of cataracts. A high sodium diet has been linked to the development of cataracts, so, it would be prudent to go easy on the salt shaker. Other measures to protect against development of cataracts include the cessation of smoking and also the use of sunglasses that block out both A and B forms of ultraviolet (UV) light.

We believe that it's possible to manage and/or improve certain conditions through what you eat. When we create "Mega-Recipes" for an ailment, we strive to include the maximum number of the nutrients that are shown to have benefit for that ailment. We also expect the Mega-Recipe to contain at least 25% of recommended intakes for those nutrients. See the list of recipes that have met our criteria for this ailment.

What You Should Eat & Why

By filtering out the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and by keeping free radicals from damaging the retina the light-sensitive part of the eye the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin may help to protect against macular degeneration, the progressive loss of vision that is the leading cause of blindness in older adults. Other carotenoids may help preserve the eye's lens, decreasing the risk of cataracts.
Leading Food Sources of carotenoids: Carrots, Spinach, Sweet potatoes, Apricots, Corn, fresh, Collard greens, Acorn squash, Peppers, sweet

Quercetin as a potent flavonoid with antioxidant capabilities that protect the eye from sunlight and other sources of oxidation.
Leading Food Sources of quercetin: Cabbage, green, Grapefruit, white, Spinach, Garlic, Cranberries, Kale, Pears, Grapes, Apples, Onions

riboflavin (vitamin B2)
Substances in riboflavin (vitamin B2) enhance antioxidant activity, limiting the damage that free radicals can cause to cells. In so doing, it protects the eye's lens and may prevent the development of cataracts, a clouding of the lens that dulls vision. Ophthalmologists recommend riboflavin for people of all ages, but most particularly for older people, who are particularly prone to this vision-robbing condition, and for people with a family history of cataracts.
Leading Food Sources of riboflavin (vitamin B2): Avocados, Clams, Yogurt, Milk, Duck, Lamb, Pork, fresh, Mushrooms

Preliminary research suggests that selenium may play a role in preventing cataracts, possibly by conferring antioxidant protection to the eye.
Leading Food Sources of selenium: Rice, brown, Shrimp, Sunflower seeds, Tuna, Brazil nuts, Eggs, Wheat, Chicken

vitamin C
Vitamin C may protect against cataracts by keeping the lens of the eye from being damaged by cigarette smoke and ultraviolet (UV) light, both types of exposure linked to cataract formation. Some studies indicate that the vitamin must be taken regularly and long-term (for 10 years or more) to produce this protective effect.
Leading Food Sources of vitamin C: Cabbage, red, Peppers, bell, red, Kiwi fruit, Oranges, Tangerines & other mandarins, Strawberries, Potatoes

Date Published: 05/03/2005
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