A cataract is an eye condition where the lenses of your eyes become cloudy due to the collection of protein lumps. It is often associated with old age. Studies also show that diabetes, excessive exposure to sunlight and smoking are associated with this condition.

When a cataract is in the advanced stages and it prevents you from performing daily activities like reading and driving, the only remedy available may be surgical removal of the cloudy lens.

You can help yourself, however, by making some changes in your diet to help prevent the onset of cataract by following the health tips listed below:

Carotenoids

Carotenoids are responsible for the colors red, yellow and orange on some vegetables and fruits. These anti-oxidants, specifically zeaxanthin and lutein, are known to help prevent cataracts.

On the average, people only get 1.7 mg of lutein and zeaxanthin per day. This is way below the ideal dosage of 6 mg per day that is essential to maximize the health benefits of these carotenoids.

Zeaxanthin and leutin may be obtained from spinach, broccoli, green peas, turnip greens and yellow corn, among others.

Anti-oxidants

Anti-oxidants are protective substances that destroy harmful molecules in the body that damage our cells and tissues. Research shows that the anti-oxidants vitamins C and E help decrease the progression and development of cataracts.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin E is 15 to 30 mg. It can be obtained from corn, olives, asparagus, vegetable oils, wheat germ, nuts and green leafy vegetables.

The RDA for vitamin C is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men. It may be obtained from vegetables and fruits, especially in citrus fruits, tomatoes, leafy green vegetables, melons, mangoes, pineapples, green pepper, berries, broccoli, potatoes and papayas.

Herbs and Supplements

When you are at risk of developing cataracts but you have poor diet and you do not have sufficient supply of the carotenoids and anti-oxidants mentioned above, you may want to try out supplements to make up for the deficiency. However, before you start taking these herbs and supplements, make sure to consult your doctor first as they might not be safe for you. These herbs and supplements may include the following:

•    Daily multivitamins
•    Alpha-lipoic acid
•    Coenzyme Q10
•    Bilberry
•    Green tea
•    Omega-3 fatty acids
•    Ginko.

Blue Mountain Eye Study

The Blue Mountain Eye Study (BMES) was conducted from 1992 to 2007 among 3,000 participants with eye diseases and visual impairment in Australia. The study showed that high intakes of vitamin A, niacin, riboflavin, protein and thiamine can decrease the risk of cataracts.

Vitamin A is an anti-oxidant found in vegetables, milk, fruits, liver and cereals. On the other hand, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin are B vitamins that may be obtained from poultry, eggs, leafy green vegetables, peas, fish, meat, beans and dairy products. Protein is essential for the growth, development and repair of tissues. It may be obtained from dairy products, beans, meat and nuts.

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