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11 foods that guard against glaucoma

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Have you noticed that you rarely see any advice on protecting your eye health?

It’s not because we’re not concerned about our eyes. Americans rank loss of eyesight as one of the top four “worst things that could happen”—right up there with cancer, Alzheimer’s and HIV/AIDS, according to a recent national public opinion poll. 1

Americans definitely fear losing our vision — and as many as 21 million of us suffer from partial to total vision loss. Worse even, is that many of these cases are easily preventable—simply by eating the right foods.

Results of a 25-year study 2 indicate that eating green, leafy vegetables — at least one and a half cups daily — may lessen your risk of glaucoma. People living with glaucoma are at increased risk of losing their eyesight.

“We found those consuming the most green leafy vegetables had a 20 to 30 percent lower risk of glaucoma,” said study leader Jae Kang. Kang is an assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

What is it about green leafy vegetables that can protect you from glaucoma—and possibly save your eyesight?

“In glaucoma, we think there is an impairment of blood flow to the optic nerve,” Kang said. “And an important factor that regulates blood flow to the eye is a substance called nitric oxide. When you consume the higher amount of green leafy vegetables, you have greater levels of nitric oxide in your body.”

You may remember hearing a lot about nitric-oxide during the last Olympic Games. Its ability to boost blood flow is also reported to increase endurance and recovery among athletes.

Best vegetables to combat glaucoma

To benefit the most and guard against glaucoma, choose from this list of nitric oxide-boosting, green leafy vegetables that provide 250 mgs of nitrate per 3.5 ounces. Fresh, high-nitrate vegetables, like these, help your body create significant amounts of nitric oxide:

  • Beets
  • Arugula
  • Celery
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Watercress
  • Chervil
  • Endive
  • Fennel
  • Leek
  • Celeriac

Your peepers will be protected and you may find the rest of your body benefits from better blood flow too.

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