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Vitamin C-rich Foods Help Prevent Cataracts

Concerned about cataracts? A new study suggests you should eat more oranges and less pizza.

Researchers in the UK and Spain collaborated on this case–control study to investigate whether consumption of foods rich in antioxidants was associated with a reduced risk of cataracts in a Mediterranean population.

Study participants were selected from an ophthalmic outreach clinic in Valencia, Spain: 343 individuals who had cataracts were compared to 334 age-and-sex-matched controls ranging in age from 55 to 74 years.

Participants were interviewed about their diet using a Food Frequency Questionnaire, and other information on factors that might influence results—such as smoking, alcohol, and education—was also taken. Participants’ blood samples were analyzed for vitamin C and other antioxidants.

When all the data was evaluated, the researchers found that those who had the highest blood levels of vitamin C (above 49 µmol/L) had a 64% reduced risk for cataracts, while those with moderately high blood levels of lycopene (>0.30 µmol/L) were found to have a 46% increased risk of cataract.

While not as positive about the correlation between high levels of lycopene and cataract, the researchers were certain that “Our results strengthen the evidence for a protective role for vitamin C on the aging lens.”

In addition to oranges, numerous members of the World’s Healthiest Foods meet our stringent criteria for excellent sources of vitamin C including: parsley, broccoli, bell pepper, strawberries, lemon juice, papaya, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts.

Here’s just a quick sampling of ideas to increase your daily intake of vitamin C:

  • Add minced chili peppers to yogurt and use as a condiment or dip.
  • Toss pasta with olive oil, pine nuts and healthy sautéed broccoli florets.
  • Add finely chopped green peppers to tuna or chicken salad.
  • Perk up your dinner salad by using chopped kale as a salad green and sweet red peppers for color.
  • Add chopped mustard greens to a pasta salad. One of our favorite combinations is chopped tomatoes, pine nuts, goat cheese, pasta and mustard greens tossed with a little olive oil.

To learn more about this vision-protective vitamin, click vitamin C.

To learn more about any of these vitamin C-rich members of the World’s Healthiest Foods, including many more easy cooking and serving ideas, simply click on the highlighted name of the food in the above list.

Want some truly great recipes that will provide quick, yet delicious ways to enjoy foods rich in vitamin C more frequently as part of your healthy way of eating? Take a look at the World's Healthiest Foods' Recipes containing these foods. Simply, click on the Recipe Assistant, select the foods for which you’d like some recipes from the Healthy Foods List, and click on the Submit button. A list containing links to all our recipes containing the foods chosen will appear immediately below.

Reference: Valero MP, Fletcher AE, De Stavola BL, Vioque J, Alepuz VC. Vitamin C is associated with reduced risk of cataract in a mediterranean population, J. Nutr. 2002 132: 1299-1306


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