Carrots are nutritious root vegetables known around the globe for improving eye health. The compounds in carrots have been shown to protect the eyes and even improve vision, specifically at night.
Eye disorders and diseases are common with age as a result of the exposure eyes have to damaging lights over time. There are several ways that carrots work to support eye health and reduce the risk of these diseases.
Carotenoids are pigments that give fruits and vegetables their bright colors, and they are antioxidants that you need to consume through food. They are also powerful plant compounds that provide protective and healing benefits.
Carrots contain several different carotenoids, which makes them beneficial food for supporting health. Carotenoids, in particular, are great for the eyes.
Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that is converted into vitamin A in the body. The benefit of beta-carotene over vitamin A is that the body will convert only what it needs. Once converted, it benefits the eyes by preventing dryness and inflammation, as well as reducing the risk of vision loss from macular degeneration.
Taking vitamin A supplements can be dangerous as high levels are toxic. Consuming beta-carotene, on the other hand, gives just the amount of vitamin A your eyes need.
Lutein can be found in the macula of the retina. Your body is not able to make lutein, so it needs to be obtained through diet.
Lutein protects the eye from diseases like macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in older adults. Lutein also protects the lens from oxidation, which can cause cataracts and cloudy vision.
In addition to this, lutein protects against blue light damage. Blue light is emitted from electronics and screens and penetrates straight through the eye to the retina. It is the most damaging light for the eyes, and lutein works to protect against this.
Lycopene is responsible for the red coloring in tomatoes but is also found in carrots. Regular consumption of lycopene has been linked to a reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration later in life.
This carotenoid specifically fights free radicals that cause oxidative damage to tissues within the eye.
Zeaxanthin can only be found in small amounts in carrots, and it works in a similar fashion to lutein. As a nutrient that is highly concentrated in the eyes, additional dietary intake of this carotenoid protects the eyes.
Vitamin C is not a carotenoid, but it is an essential vitamin and antioxidant. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C allow it to protect against cataract development. It has also been shown to slow the progression of macular degeneration.
Vitamin C supports the health of blood vessels serving the eye, ensuring they get the oxygen and nourishment they need.
1 tablespoon olive oil, extra virgin
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb large carrots, peeled and cut (1-in pieces)
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
toasted cumin seeds, for garnish
In a heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté the onion for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Add the carrots, broth, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the carrots are tender, which should be about 15 minutes.
Purée the soup with an immersion blender, or in a blender or food processor until smooth, then return it to the saucepan. Whisk in the lemon juice and yogurt.
Season to taste. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the cumin seeds.
Carrots get most of the attention when it comes to protecting vision. One additional ingredient in this recipe also supports eye health. Cumin is an anti-inflammatory compound with antioxidant properties. In this way, cumin can protect the eyes from damaging light and slow age-related conditions caused by oxidative damage.
The onions in this soup are full of sulfur, which is required for glutathione production. This protein acts as an antioxidant that protects the lens.
In addition to adding more carrots to your diet, there are several other ways to boost eye health and protect against disease. The best eye health will come from a combination of a healthy diet rich in nutrients for the eyes and a healthy lifestyle.
♦ Use sun protection: Always wear sunglasses when outdoors. Choose sunglasses that protect your eyes from 99–100% of UVA and UVB rays. Excessive sun exposure damages the lens and other parts of the eye, causing cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygium (tissue growth over the whites of your eyes).
♦ Limit screen time: Using the television, smartphone, or computer can cause eye strain. Excessive use of screens also means excessive exposure to harmful blue light. At night, turn screens off or turn on the night-light filter. Reducing exposure to blue light is important to preventing eye diseases, as blue light can cause irreversible retinal damage.
♦ Don’t smoke: Tobacco has been linked to vision loss, cataracts, and macular degeneration. Smoking also increases your risk of dry eye. Carotenoids can protect against this damage to an extent, but quitting is the only way to prevent irreversible damage.
♦ Get regular eye exams: The only way to know for sure how healthy your eyes are is to get regular examinations. Seeing an optometrist or ophthalmologist is a good preventive habit to get into. In many cases, early identification of a disease or condition can prevent permanent vision loss later on.
The idea that carrots are good for your eyes may have originated from a myth, but there is truth to the matter. Carrots contain powerful carotenoids that are proven to protect the eyes and prevent diseases known to cause vision loss.
Carrots are more than just a side dish for a meal or a snack for the bunnies. It is time to get to the root of eye health and discover how carrots can help your eyes today.