Leafy Greens Daily May Ward Off Eye Problems
Research published in January 2016 in the American Medical Association journal JAMA Opthalmology indicates that leafy greens, such as spinach, kale and collard greens, may help protect against the development of the most common form of glaucoma, known as primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG).
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School followed more than 100,000 men and women who were enrolled in two major medical studies for a period of more than 28 years, according to an article in Eye Nutrition News published in January. Everyone in these studies was 40 years or older, and none had glaucoma at the start of the study.
The patients received eye exams every two years, and throughout the course of the studies, 1,483 people developed POAG. When the researchers looked at the diets of the study participants, they noted a strong similarity among those who did not develop glaucoma — these people ate more leafy greens. In fact, greater intake of green leafy vegetables was associated with a 20 percent to 30 percent lower risk of POAG.
The association was even stronger for POAG with early paracentral visual field loss, a common subtype of POAG. The research revealed that people who ate a lot of leafy greens had a 40 percent to 50 percent lower risk of acquiring this form of the disease.
The reason these superfoods offer such great protection is related to the dietary nitrate they contain. It’s thought that glaucoma impairs blood flow to the optic nerve. Nitric oxide helps regulate this flow. Since leafy greens contain high levels of nitrates, the precursor to nitric oxide, consuming them likely keeps things running more smoothly, according to the article.
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