Carotenoids reduce cataract incidence
Cataracts are a leading cause of visual deterioration
in the elderly and can only be treated by the removal of the affected lens.
However, prevention is far better than treatment, and recent research has indicated
that a diet rich in the Carotenoids
lutein and zeaxanthin may help to protect against this age-related condition.
In a prospective study, a total of 77,466 female subjects
were followed over a 12 year period to discover whether there was any association
between carotenoid and vitamin intake, and cataract extraction in women.
Dietary intake was assessed by food frequency questionnaires during the twelve
year follow-up. The results showed that those with the highest intake of lutein
and zeaxanthin had a 22% decreased risk of cataract extraction compared with
those with the lowest intake.
A possible explanation for these results could be that
because lutein and zeaxanthin possess antioxidant activity in the eye, they
may help to neutralise free radicals which would otherwise oxidise lens proteins
causing opacification. As these carotenoids are found abundantly in spinach,
kale and other greens, it may be wise to increase the dietary intake of these
vegetables. However, for those who may find this difficult, carotenoid supplements
are an effective alternative.
Am J Clin Nutr, 1999, 70:509-16.
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