Do carrots really improve your eye sight?

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Do carrots really improve your eye sight?

In order to convince their children to eat their vegetables, parents will often describe the weird and wonderful effects that carrots, broccoli, peas and other greens will have on them! Children were even brainwashed by cartoons such as Popeye, convincing them that spinach gives super strength! But is there any truth to these comments of blackmail?

Turns out in the case of carrots, this is a very likely truth. It’s not to say you’ll end up with Superman’s x-ray vision, but it will in most cases increase your chances at good eyesight for longer. This is a result of carrots being rich in beta-carotene; a carotenoid pigment found in may orange fruits and vegetables. The body converts beta-carotene into Vitamin A, a vitamin which studies have shown in deficiency could even cause blindness.

Does this mean that carrots should be an essential part of every person’s diet? Well yes and no. Carrots are an excellent source of precursory Vitamin A, but it is also readily available in milk, cheese, egg yolk and vegetables such as sweet potatoes and pumpkins.

So where does this obsession with eye sight and carrots come from? Carrots became associated with vision, specifically night vision during World War II. The British Royal Air Force published a story that said skilled fighter pilot John “Cat’s Eyes” Cunningham could thank a steady diet of carrots for his night vision flying success. This however was merely a propaganda campaign to try and hide their use of airborne radar to locate enemy planes.

This unfortunately doesn’t mean that carrots could heal the blind, or even increase your overall site, but rather Vitamin A is necessary to promote all around eye health. Studies have shown that Vitamin A can prevent the formation of cataracts and macular degeneration, the world’s leading cause of blindness.

Carrots don’t only contain high amounts of beta-carotene, they are also rich in an antioxidant called lutein. Foods rich in lutein have been found to increase pigment density in the macula, the oval-shaped yellow area near the retina of the eye. The greater the pigment density in the macula, the better protected your retina is and the lower your risk for macular degeneration.

The other rumor about carrots, that they can turn you orange is also true! Because Beta-carotene is a pigment, large consumption of foods containing this could result in your skin turning slightly orange. Although it’s not the green the Hulk turns, this might be a more promising encouragement to get your children to eat their carrots!

Sources:

http://www.allaboutvision.com/nutrition/vitamin_a.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Cunningham_(RAF_officer)

http://www.webmd.com/diet/carrots-good-for-eyes