Good health and skin doesn’t just happen, it is what we put into our bodies, rub on our skin, come in contact with, including our environment we live in etc. Judy’s health tip is for one of the last areas of the body to receive nutrients, our precious eyes.
Fresh parsley has more eye-healthy nutrients than any other vegetable I know of. Pick a few leaves and chew them and they give you two of the world’s best vision-sharpening nutrients, lutein and zeaxanthin.
You’ve probably heard talk about them before. Lutein and zeaxanthin are critical to eye health because they concentrate in the retina of your eye and protect these structures that give your vision clarity and sharpness.
But what you may not know is that of all the carotenoids, including beta-carotene, these are the only two collected in your macula.
The macula is a little yellow spot near the centre of your retina.
Why is that so important to you? Because the macula is what makes you able to pick out very small details, and also do highly specialized tasks like reading this letter.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are so highly concentrated there that your eyes don’t work without them. These yellow pigments act like sunglasses that block and protect your central sight from ultraviolet and near-ultraviolet light that can break it down and cause oxidation from free radicals.
In a study done in Japan, they gave blood tests to more than 700 people 65 and up.1 Those with the highest levels of lutein and zeaxanthin appeared to have overall better eye health.
An Australian study of over 3,600 people made a similar discovery. Those who got a lot of lutein and zeaxanthin through diet or supplements had better eye health than those who had lower levels. 2
While lutein is found around the outer edges of your macula, zeaxanthin is found at the centre. Together, they give you complete protection.
Parsley is one of the best food sources I know of for both lutein and zeaxanthin. Just a few sprigs give you 1,557 mcg. Doesn’t sound like much, but these two nutrients are highly concentrated, so 1.5 mg from one food is a good source. And parsley also has nearly as much beta-carotene and vitamin A as the same amount of carrots.
Now, every morning while my parsley is growing, I grab a few sprigs, to add to my juice or to eat fresh as I prepare the juice.
When the parsley plant starts to flower, it’s mature and that means it’s done giving you fresh parsley for that season. So dry the leaves that are left and save them. Eat at least two tablespoons of the dried leaves every day for your best eye health.
Other good food sources of lutein and zeaxanthin are dark leafy green vegetables like Brussels sprouts, and yellow foods like egg yolks, yellow squash, and pumpkins and carrots which are “dark yellow” vegetables. However, they only have about a third as much as parsley. And you should know that some studies show your eyes need at least 20 mg a day of lutein and 4 mg of zeaxanthin to maintain optimal vision.
That means if you don’t eat lots of eggs and parsley and other vegetables, you’ll need to supplement. When you look for a good supplement, remember that most formulas are going to be competing on price. That means they’ll skimp on these critical nutrients and only give you a few hundred micrograms.
Make sure the supplement you choose has the full amount of lutein and zeaxanthin you need. With a high dose of the right nutrients, you’ll really notice it in your ability to read and focus on everyday things the way your eyes are supposed to.
Here’s to great eyesight!