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Eye health: The seasonal vegetable that could slash your risk of cataracts

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As we get older, it is natural to experience some decline in eye health. While this can not always be avoided, according to experts, some dietary changes can help to maintain good eyesight for far longer.

Eating a balanced diet filled with nutrient-rich foods, including fruits and vegetables, is recommended for living longer in general.

However, including one seasonal vegetable which is at its peak currently, could be the key to avoiding certain eyesight ailments.

According to Alastair Lockwood ophthalmologist, eye surgeon and eye health Advisor at Feel Good Contacts, pumpkins could be the key to reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is common among people in their 50s and 60s, and of cataracts.

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How are pumpkins beneficial to eye health?

The reason pumpkins are cited as being so beneficial in reducing the risk of certain age-related eye conditions is because the vegetable is packed full of vitamin C, vitamin A and zinc.

Mr Lockwood said: “Vitamin C slows down the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and reduces the risk of cataracts.

“Vitamin A protects the cornea and improves night vision, while zinc helps to deliver vitamin A from the liver to the retina to form melanin which protects the eye and helps slow down AMD progression.”

Pumpkins also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are antioxidants.

Mr Lockwood said: “These antioxidants protect your eyes by filtering out high energy wavelengths of light.

“They may also reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases such as cataracts and AMD.”

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What other health benefits do pumpkins offer?

Pumpkins contain a number of other nutrients that can be beneficial to improving overall health.

In addition to vitamins, pumpkins also include iron and folate which can help to strengthen the immune system and speed up the healing process of a wound.

Mr Lockwood added: “Aside from boosting eye health, eating pumpkin has many other health benefits.

“They are high in fibre and potassium, which helps lower blood pressure and aid weight loss.”

However, Mr Lockwood warns that not all foods containing pumpkin are healthy.

He points out that many popular seasonal dishes which utilise pumpkin can actually be detrimental to overall health, rather than offering the healing properties of pumpkin alone.

The Feel Good Contacts expert said: “While the market is saturated with pumpkin snacks, many of these snacks, including pumpkin spiced lattes and pumpkin pie, are packed with sugar.

“Snacks and beverages such as these are best enjoyed in moderation.

“Healthy pumpkin snacks include baked pumpkin seeds, which are packed with vitamins, smoothies, and soup.”

What other ways can I maintain eye health?

Eating a healthy and balanced diet is certainly one way to take care of your eyes and vision as you get older, however, there are also several other factors to consider.

Exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can both be beneficial in reducing the risk of conditions and ideates that may impact eyesight over time.

Sun exposure can damage your eyes, and raise your risk of AMD and cataracts, so wearing sunglasses is crucial.

Similarly, in certain sports or jobs, people should aim to wear protective eyewear when possible.

Certain lifestyle habits, such as smoking, can increase the risk of AMD and cataracts.

Similarly, it is also important to be aware of any hereditary conditions which could lead to eye health degeneration over time.

Regular appointments with an optician are beneficial in spotting the early signs of eyesight changes, eye conditions and diseases.



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