How does watercress support eye health? 


How does watercress support eye health?

Watercress is a source of nutrients associated with the maintenance of normal vision and eye health including vitamin A, vitamins C and E, alpha-linolenic acid and caroteniods lutein and zeaxanthin and beta-carotene. Higher intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin rich foods have been associated with a lower incidence of eye diseases such as cataracts and age related macular degeneration (References 50, 70, 71, 72) - the most common cause of poor vision and blindness in people over 60 in the UK.

Diet is the sole source of lutein and zeaxanthin and they are the only carotentoids concentrated in the lens and macular pigment (which protects the macular from damaging photo-oxidative effects of blue light). Gradual deterioration of the macular can cause oxidative stress in the retina, leading to a loss of central vision. However, many other physiological, lifestyle and dietary factors (such as omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and antioxidants vitamins C and E and beta-carotene) may be associated with the development of these conditions (References 73, 73a, 74)

A regular intake of lutein-rich green, leafy vegetables, and other antioxidant rich foods, as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle remains a key recommendation for the maintenance of eye health (References 75, 76).

The Ulster Study (Reference 24) showed a 100% increase in plasma lutein levels in subjects regularly eating watercress.