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20 February 2008 @ 07:43 pm
For the Eyes....  
Specifically, the dietary substances that benefit the eyes are carotenoids.  Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Beta carotene (Vit A) are all carotenoids.  These are the pigments that give color to red, yellow, and orange foods.  They can also be found in leafy greens though!  Vit E & C have also been shown to be beneficial.

Studies (especially the LAST study) have shown that Lutein can be beneficial in reducing age-related macular degeneration (which causes gradual visual impairment and even blindness).  I had to do a research project on this a while back, and still have the articles.  In some studies, people who consumed the most Lutein from their foods had a 20-50% lower risk of cataracts than those who consumed the least.  However, one study (AREDS) that followed 4,600 people over a 7yr period, who were given high doses of beta-carotene, Vit C, and Vit E, did not have any less incidence of cataracts than those who received a placebo.  Basically, what I concluded from all the literature (and one thing actually stated this)- taking a specific supplement of any of these has no more benefit than what you'd get from a multi-vitamin.  There is actually a risk for toxicity with Vit A or E because they are fat soluble- meaning your body will hold on to more of them.  Anyway, food sources are the best for getting these nutrients.

Also eating fish 2x/wk seems to have a benefit to the eyes as well.  This is probably because DHA (an omega-3 fish oil) is an important lipid in the rods and cones that are in our eyes. 

Foods that contain the beneficial carotenoids
(in addition to Buttermarjorine's list of good sources):

Carrots (of course!)
Corn
Spinach (cooked has more lutein than raw)
Greens
Kale
Broccoli
Romaine lettuce
Brussels sprouts
Zucchini