Carrots, rich in beta-carotene, are not the only food beneficial to your eyes, points out Silke Restemeyer, spokesperson for the German Nutrition Society. Spinach, tomatoes, broccoli and mangoes also contain beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A.
As Restemeyer explains, vitamin A helps protect the eye's retina and lens from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage cells.
Beta-carotene is a carotenoid - a plant and animal pigment - and other carotenoids that perform a similar function are lutein and zeaxanthin, Restemeyer says.
Found mainly in leafy green vegetables and corn, these substances can lower the risk of gray cataracts and macular degeneration, a form of retinal damage, usually in older adults, that results in vision loss.
The antioxidant properties of vitamins C and E protect eye cells from damage caused by exposure to sunlight, Restemeyer notes. Citrus fruits are a primary source of vitamin C, and vitamin E is found in vegetable oils, hazelnuts and whole grains.
(China Daily August 5, 2009)