Researchers from the Harvard Medical School and Women’s Hospital in Boston have shown that the more leafy greens you eat, the lower your risk of glaucoma – the leading cause of blindness.
There are more than seven types of glaucoma, but the most common ones are the open-angle and paracentral glaucoma.
It has been estimated that around 3 million Americans over the age of 60 suffer from open-angle glaucoma. It usually starts with peripheral vision loss caused by damage to the optic nerve and buildup of fluid which appear as a result of high eye pressure triggered by impaired blood circulation. This is why eating vegetables may help in the prevention.
It can appear either on one or both eyes. At first, patients experience straight-ahead vision, which means they can’t see objects out of the corner of their eyes.Patients describe vision like looking through a tunnel which eventually decreases until the vision is completely lost.
Glaucoma is latent in the early phase and there aren’t any symptoms until the terminal phase when the vision is deteriorated.
At this point, the treatment will be ineffective since the disease was noticed too late, but if it is detected early, we can prevent further loss of the vision.
Unfortunately, the severity of this disease is so high that regardless of the treatment, about 10% of glaucoma patients will still lose their vision. Therefore, the best strategy is only prevention.
Some studies have shown that by incorporating leafy greens into your diet you will decrease the open-angle glaucoma by 21% and the pericentral glaucoma by 48%.
Why are green leafy vegetables so important for our vision?
Green leafy vegetables are rich in nitrates which convert into nitric oxide when ingested, thus improving the blood flow. Nitric oxide leads to blood vessels dilation and relaxation, encourages the blood flow and regulates the blood pressure. High blood or eye pressure is considered as a risk factor for glaucoma.
By increasing the intake of vegetables into your daily diet you address all aspects of your health since vegetables are abundant in disease-fighting ingredients and various antioxidants.
Leafy greens contain phytochemicals which have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties, regulate the cell regeneration and maintain DNA.
For best results, you should consume about 240 mg (1.5 servings) of green leafy vegetables per day. The most beneficial ones are: celery, collard greens, cabbage, spinach, green beans, radishes, kale and beets.
Dark leafy greens are perfect for your vision
As reported by CDC (the American Center for Prevention and Disease Control), 87% of the population in America do not consume the recommended vegetable daily intake and 76% do not eat the recommended amount of fruits.
Apart from nitrates, zeaxanthin and lutein are also important for the eye health, which are found in veggies like, collard greens, Swiss chard, Brussels sprout and broccoli. Small concentrations of zaxanthin and lutein are found in the macula.
More specifically, zeaxanthin is a part of your retina and lutein is a part of your macular pigment. Both lower the risk of advanced macular degeneration and cataracts.
Microgreens are known to have magnified nutrition
Although lettuce is considered as a good source of nitrates, some studies suggest that you should opt for microgreens instead.
According to a research published in the Agriculture and Food Chemistry Journal, microgreens contain up to 6 times more beta carotene, vitamin E and C and many other nutrients than the mature greens.
The most nutritious microgreens are cilantro, red cabbage, green daikon radish, garnet amaranth, kale, basil, sunflower microgreens and broccoli.
You should note that when you prepare your meal with leafy greens make sure you avoid calorie dressings, like sugar, salt or butter.
Insulin resistance – another reason why exercise and healthy diet is crucial for lowering the risk of glaucoma.
If your diet is rich in processed foods, such as unhealthy fats, grains and sugar you are at higher risk of developing insulin resistance which is linked to many other diseases, including glaucoma.
Insulin resistance leads to pre-diabetes and diabetes which also increase the risk of glaucoma. Therefore, prevention is crucial and it can be achieved with increased consumption of vegetables, especially those rich in vitamin K since they increase the insulin sensitivity.
Apart from making changes in your diet by replacing processed foods with green leafy vegetables, you should also do regular exercises which include strength training and high-intensity interval training. In this way you will significantly reduce the eye pressure and the open-angle glaucoma.
If you don’t like consuming vegetables, then you should try vegetable juicing. Drinking raw and fresh-made vegetable juice is similar to an intravenous multivitamin infusion, rich in enzymes and minerals.
Here is the recipe:
2 pears – medium-size;
1 cup of cilantro;
1 cup of spinach;
½ inch ginger;
1 lime – medium-size.
If the lime is organic you don’t have to remove the rind, otherwise it is recommendable to be removed. Then, mix the ingredients, pour the juice into a glass and stir.
To protect your eyes and vision from various diseases you should include plenty of other types of food into your diet.
Therefore we recommend:
Salmon. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are highly important for the eye health since they slow down the macular degeneration. Several studies have shown that animal-based omega-3 fatty acids decrease the macular degeneration by 60%.
Organic pastured eggs. Egg yolk is rich in zeaxanthin and lutein as well as other healthy protein and fats. However, note that the heat damages these nutrients, therefore make sure you prepare raw, soft-boiled or poached eggs.
Black currants. They are rich in anthocyanins as well as fatty acids and have mighty anti-inflammatory properties and regulate the immune response. They also aid the lipid peroxidation, strengthen the membranes and decrease the capillary fragility and permeability.
Astaxanthin. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is an excellent source of this nutrient. According to some studies, astaxanthin is the most powerful antioxidant for the prevention of blindness. It also helps in numerous eye-related problems such as: diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, venous occlusion, cataracts and inflammatory eye-diseases.
What’s more, this nutrient crosses the blood-brain barrier as well as the blood-retinal barrier, thus bringing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant protection to your eyes.