— by Cate Stevenson, BA
If you want to prevent macular degeneration, you have to eat more fruits and veggies — end of discussion. Many of these foods contain vitamin A — which is essential to the health of our night vision. Carrots, red peppers, and green peppers are especially good sources. There are also two very key antioxidants that are found in several leafy greens and other produce that we know could prevent macular degeneration. These antioxidants are known as lutein and zeaxanthin. These are the leading antioxidants linked with preventing macular degeneration.
Several studies have shown their link. It’s very exciting, considering that, at one point not too long ago, people thought that macular degeneration was just an inevitable part of aging. It was widely believed that nothing could be done to improve your chances of avoiding this disease. Finally, researchers are starting to admit that macular degeneration may not be an unavoidable part of aging.
In fact, nutrition is starting to get a lot of respect from eye-care researchers and almost everyone knows that the first key to eating better comes in the form of farm-fresh produce. While it might seem easier to take a supplement than totally change your diet, the former probably isn’t your best bet.
At the Department of Clinical Laboratory and Nutritional Sciences, Center for Health and Disease Research, University of Massachusetts, a research team conducted a very interesting clinical trial. They looked at patients suffering from macular degeneration who were taking statins — a popular pharmaceutical drug prescribed to lower cholesterol levels. The patients consumed foods containing two egg yolks followed by four egg yolks per day for five weeks. This was followed by a four-week egg-free period. The researchers discovered that consumption of four egg yolks per day and possibly of two egg yolks per day for five weeks benefited macular health in older adults. Serum HDL cholesterol increased without an increase in LDL cholesterol.
Veggies and fruits may be lower in cholesterol, but eggs, according to this study, are actually an excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin that won’t cause your bad cholesterol to rise. Eggs have higher levels of these nutrients when uncooked, but most people won’t eat them that way. You can get about 165 micrograms of lutein and zeaxanthin in one poached chicken egg.
You are basically safe if you eat one egg per day for five to seven days of the week. This shouldn’t cause your cholesterol to shoot up too much, just as long as you avoid other sources of cholesterol. At the same time, make sure you still keep getting lots of healthy grains and vegetables to pump up your levels of this carotenoid while simultaneously proving a healthy and well-rounded diet. Now, isn’t this a great excuse to have that breakfast omelet you love?