Nutrition News

Eating Leafy Greens May Reduce Glaucoma Risk

Human Eye
Image via Pixabay

Daily consumption of green leafy vegetables might reduce the risk of the serious eye disease glaucoma by 20 percent or more, new research suggests.

The eye condition known as glaucoma, which can lead to vision loss, generally develops as a result of an increase in fluid in the front of the eye, which in turn causes pressure that can damage the optic nerve.

Study lead Jae Kang with the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston was quoted by HealthDay News as having said that the study’s participants who consumed “the most green leafy vegetables had a 20 to 30 percent lower risk of glaucoma”.

We found those consuming the most green leafy vegetables had a 20 to 30 percent lower risk of glaucoma

The Harvard Medical School scientists behind the study followed just about 64,000 Nurses’ Health Study participants between 1984 and 2012 and another 41,000 plus participants from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study that were tracked from 1986 to 2014. None of the study’s participants had glaucoma at the onset of the study and all of them underwent eye exams once every couple of years.

In their research, the scientists found that those with high nitrate-rich food intakes to exhibit lower levels of the rare condition known as primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), which entails eye pressure induced chronic or acute pain.

Prior research suggests nitrate or nitrite to be beneficial when it comes to blood circulation. Subsequently, the researchers decided to examine the link between diet and POAG.

Kang, an assistant professor of medicine, was quoted by the Daily Mail as having explained that the research “suggests” nitrate or nitrite to be “beneficial for blood circulation.”

Evidence suggests that nitrate or nitrite, precursors for nitric oxide, is beneficial for blood circulation […] Dietary nitrate is predominately derived from green leafy vegetables, which contribute approximately 80 per cent of nitrate intake […] Although plasma nitrite levels or intake of specific vegetables have been associated with POAG, to our knowledge, dietary nitrate intake as a specific nutrient has not been evaluated.

While the study, which was published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology, found an association between a reduced risk of glaucoma and increased leafy green consumption rates, no cause-and-effect was established.

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