Are carrots really good for your eyes?
As a young child, my mom used to tell me that carrots would help improve my eyesight. Because I generally believed everything she said, I thought she was telling the truth. We ate them as snacks and with almost every meal. Unfortunately, I still ended up with a rather large pair of glasses in middle school. I now know that my mother’s statement about carrots and vision wasn’t 100% accurate.
Carrots are a great source of beta carotene (a substance that the body converts to vitamin A), and is a very important nutrient for eye health. An extreme lack of vitamin A can cause an overall lack of tears, may lead to eye puffiness and corneal ulcers, and may eventually lead to blindness. Vitamin A can help prevent the formation of cataracts and macular degeneration, which is the world’s leading cause of blindness. In addition to beta-carotene, carrots also contain the antioxidant lutein. Foods rich in lutein may help increase pigment density in the macula, the oval-shaped yellow area near the retina of the eye. But, it is important to note that carrots won’t improve your visual acuity if you have less than perfect vision. And remember that because beta carotene is a pigment, eating too many carrots (and other rich foods rich in beta carotene) may turn your skin orange.
I do encourage my patients to get as many different colors of fruits and veggies into their diet each day. Carrots can be an extremely healthy part of the diet. They are high in fiber, which can help to keep you fuller longer and prevent excess calorie intake. They are also relatively low in calories so they make an excellent snack. I love to pair carrots with hummus or low fat ranch dip for an excellent afternoon snack.