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Brussels sprouts - you've got to love them all year round!

2 min read

Make sure you make the most of Brussels sprouts while you can because after 'Brexit' we may not be able to get them anymore! (joke!)

Did you know that 7.8 million kilos of sprouts are thrown away every Christmas? If you're not a fan of the little green vegetable then this may not come as a surprise. Unfortunately many of us fall into the sprout hating camp and what a shame that is as Brussels Sprouts are actually packed full of two very important antioxidants - lutein and zeaxanthin. These two antioxidants are proven to be important for keeping your eyesight sharp in later life.

The leading causes of blindness in the UK

Advanced age-related macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of blindness in the UK, a condition caused by exposure of the eyes to sunlight, light bulbs and the blue light emitted by smartphone screens. However a new study be scientists at Harvard University in the United States has revealed that people who eat plenty of lutein and zeaxanthin are 40% less likely to suffer from the condition.

What is age-related macular degeneration?

The main symptom of macular degeneration is blurring of central vision which means:

  • you lose visual acuity which is the ability to see fine detail, so reading and driving become difficult.
  • you also lose contrast sensitivity which is the ability to distinguish between objects such as faces against a background 
  • images, writing or faces can become distorted in the centre.

Unfortunately glasses won't be able to correct any blurred central vision and both eyes tend to eventually be affected, although you may only notice problems in one eye to begin with.

The condition currently affects more than 600,000 people in the UK, with that number expected to reach almost 700,000 by 2020. But lutein and zeaxanthin can help to guard against it, protecting your eyes from the high-energy light waves that cause it.

The basic science explained

The spectrum of visible light goes from red to blue, blue light has a higher frequency therefore vibrates with more energy making it more hazardous to the eye. The macula, located at the back of the eye, contains a yellow pigment which filters out the harmful blue light however as we age the macula slowly degenerates. This means that the eye becomes more vulnerable to the destructive blue light.

Lutein and zeaxanthin aren't just found in Brussels Sprouts but also in leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli. They can also prevent other sight problems in later life such as cataracts. Great news for those that aren't partial to a Brussels Sprout!

Leading eye surgeon Dr David Allamby said: I think we would have a lot less people losing their sight if more green leafy vegetables were consumed.”

A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.