Were you ever told to eat your carrots because they would help you see better? Most of us have heard this throughout our childhoods, which is why carrots are synonymous with good vision. But, is there truth to this claim, or is it simply a clever way for parents to get kids to eat more of their vegetables? You may be surprised to learn that yes, carrots can improve your eyesight.
Carrots DO Support Good Vision
Carrots are rich in beta carotene, an orange or red plant pigment found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. The body converts beta carotene to a form of Vitamin A, which is called “retinal.” Retinal is a molecule essential for maintaining normal vision.
In the case of vision, Vitamin A converts light into a signal that can be transmitted by the brain, helping people to see in low-light conditions. Research also shows that Vitamin A can deliver essential nutrients to the eyes that protect them from macular degeneration and cataracts.
Where Did the Carrot Concept Come From?
There is a reason why carrots get the attention, and not beets or bell peppers. During World War II, the British Royal Air Force was using radar technology to locate and shoot down enemy planes. To hide this new technology, a rumor started that the pilots ate a ton of carrots to help them see better at night. Though the claim had some validity, it was certainly fabricated.
But, There’s a Catch
Most people get enough Vitamin A from the foods they eat, including green leafy vegetables, fruits and dairy products. If you’re not deficient in Vitamin A, getting more beta carotene into your system won’t improve your vision. Plus, the body will no longer convert beta carotene into Vitamin A once your levels are high enough, as the body regulates against excess amounts to prevent toxicity.
Bottom Line – Eat Your Vegetables
Today, most Americans are not deficient in Vitamin A, and therefore, won’t see any major changes in their eyesight by eating carrots. Still, carrots (and other vegetables containing beta carotene) should be added to your menu because of their health benefits. So, don’t hold off on carrots and other colorful fruits and vegetables, as they can prevent long-term damage and blindness.
Eating the right diet can keep your vision healthy and prevent serious conditions such as age-related macular degeneration. For more information about creating a healthy vision loss prevention plan, call Empire Retina Consultants at 718-646-2025.