The evidence is undeniable: Green leafy vegetables take the prize when it comes to protecting eye health

Glaucoma can cause vision loss or even blindness. Leafy greens like kale, lettuce, and spinach, on the other hand, are full of vitamins and minerals that prevent conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Here’s a question: Is there a link between eating leafy greens and improving glaucoma?

According to a study, there is. In fact, adding more green leafy vegetables to a person’s diet can also significantly lower his risk of developing glaucoma.

The study was published in the Journal of American Medical Association Ophthalmology, and it was conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Glaucoma is an eye disorder that can damage a person’s optic nerve. The most common type of glaucoma is primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), which has no signs or symptoms except gradual vision loss. At least three million Americans have glaucoma, with 120,000 people going blind because of it.

The condition is described as an imbalance in production and drainage of aqueous humor, a clear fluid that can accumulate in the eye’s anterior chamber. Aqueous humor builds pressure inside the eye, and when this pressure reaches critical levels in a person with glaucoma, they may suffer from irreversible nerve damage and vision loss.

Nitrates and the risk of glaucoma

The researchers posited that increasing the intake of leafy greens with dietary nitrate improved blood circulation, which then helped correct the restricted flow of blood to the optic nerve. This, they believed, was the reason why eating leafy greens helped lower the risk of blindness linked to glaucoma.

For the study, researchers analyzed the diets and eye exam results of 105,000 people. The data was gathered from 64,000 female participants involved in a study that took place between 1984 and 2012, along with 41,000 male volunteers who took part in a study that spanned 1986 to 2012.

All study participants were older than 40 and weren’t diagnosed with chronic glaucoma at the start of the study.

The researchers then divided the participants into five dietary groups based on their consumption of leafy vegetables. All volunteers were also required to report the results of eye exams undertaken every two years.

The researchers noted that 1,483 participants eventually developed glaucoma by the time the study drew to a close.

The health benefits of green leafy vegetables

The researchers concluded that consuming dietary nitrate and leafy greens can lower the risk of chronic glaucoma by up to 30 percent. Some of the volunteers even had up to 50 percent lower risk of vision loss.

The researchers added that the volunteers who consumed at least 240 milligrams of nitrate per day experienced the greatest reduction in POAG risk.

Incorporate these leafy green vegetables into your diet to boost your eye health and lower your risk of developing glaucoma:

Findings revealed that collard greens and kale had the most persistent and significant impact on reducing the risk of POAG. (Related: Green, leafy vegetables can decrease your risk of glaucoma by 20%.)

While at least 10 percent of all individuals diagnosed with glaucoma is expected to eventually lose their sight, consuming leafy green vegetables full of dietary nitrate may help the rest of those with the condition.

According to the American Optometric Association, leafy green vegetables like collards and turnip greens are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. These two antioxidants are known to decrease chronic eye diseases such as glaucoma, along with cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

If you want to replicate the positive results of the study and lower your risk of developing glaucoma, follow a healthy diet and eat more green leafy vegetables.

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