MY PARENTS TOLD ME

eating carrots is good for your eyes

Yes, eating carrots can help ensure healthy eyes. Carrots are a goldmine of beta-carotene – the compound that not only gives them their vibrant orange color but is also a precursor of vitamin A, the vitamin essential for good eyesight. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that getting lots of vitamin A will prevent you from having to wear glasses.

Carrots are particularly rich in beta-carotene, but this nutrient can be found in other vegetables too, including sweet potatoes, winter squash, red peppers, spinach and lettuce. Our bodies turn beta-carotene into vitamin A based on our nutritional requirements. This vitamin can be produced from other types of carotenoids as well, but beta-carotene is by far the most abundant precursor in our food and the one we can convert the most easily. Our bodies can also absorb vitamin A directly from animal products like liver, dairy products, eggs and fish.

Vitamin A is also known as retinol because it was isolated for the first time in a retina in 1913. And it was honored with the first letter of the alphabet because it was the first vitamin to be discovered. It plays a crucial role in eyesight, forming a key part of the visual cycle. Our retinas – the light-sensitive part of our eyes – are made from two types of cells: cones and rods. These cells can turn light into nerve signals, but they need vitamin A to do so. When vitamin A molecules are exposed to light, they undergo a series of chemical reactions that generate an electrical impulse, which is then carried to the brain through the optical nerve. And our brain interprets these impulses as light.

A diet rich in beta-carotene can therefore help ensure good eyesight. It may also reduce the likelihood of developing age-related diseases like cataracts; two studies found a lower prevalence of cataracts among people with higher beta-carotene levels in their blood.

One final tip to help you properly absorb the beta-carotene you eat: garnish your vegetables with a healthy fat, like a drizzle of olive oil or a couple of walnuts. Your body will be able to absorb the carotenoids much more efficiently.

Sources:

Nutritional information on carrots
https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Carrots%2C_raw_nutritional_value.html

 Manger des carrots aide la vue, Extenso, le Centre de référence sur la nutrition de l’Université de Montréal
http://www.extenso.org/article/manger-des-carrots-aide-la-vue/

 Les aliments de la vision, Doctissimo
http://www.doctissimo.fr/html/nutrition/mag_2002/mag0719/nu_5642_alimenation_eyes.htm

 Carotte, PasseportSanté
http://www.passeportsante.net/fr/Nutrition/EncyclopedieAliments/Fiche.aspx?doc=carotte_nu

 Vitamin A et bêta-carotène, PasseportSanté
http://www.passeportsante.net/fr/Solutions/PlantesSupplements/Fiche.aspx?doc=vitamin_a_betacarotene_ps

Plasma antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids and age-related cataract, Gale CR, Hall NF, Phillips DI et al. Ophthalmology, 2001;108:1992-1998
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11713067?dopt=Citation

 Chimie de la vision, Gérard Gomez, Académie de Montpellier
http://sciences-physiques.ac-montpellier.fr/ABCDORGA/Famille/VISION.html

Vitamins guide: Vitamin A
http://www.vitamins-nutrition.org/vitamins-guide/vitamin-a-beta-carotene-retinol.html

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