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Cataracts - Cataracts & Spinach

Cataracts & Spinach

Spinach, kale, broccoli, and other foods rich in the carotenoid lutein may cut the risk of cataracts, according to two major studies at the Harvard Medical School.

Johanna Seddon and colleagues monitored more than 77,000 women in the Nurses' Health Study and more than 36,000 men in the Health professionals' Follow-up Study. After 12 years, 1,471 cataracts were extracted from the women and after eight years, 840 cataracts were extracted from the men.

Those who ate the most lutein had about a 20 percent lower risk of cataract surgery than those who ate the least. For example:

  • women who ate spinach and other greens at least twice a week had an 18 percent lower risk than women who consumed them less than once a month, and
  • men who ate broccoli more than twice a week had a 23 percent lower risk than men who consumed it less than once a month.

No other carotenoids were linked to cataracts.

"It's too soon for lutein supplements," wrote Julie Mares-perlman of the University of Wisconsin Medical School in an editorial in the same journal. Something else in green vegetables could protect eyes. - Bonnie Liebman

Amer. J. Clin. Nutr. 70: 431, 509, 517, 1999.

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