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Vitamin C May Lower Risk of Cataracts

When it comes to eye health, vitamin A usually gets most of the credit—but don’t overlook the potential of vitamin C. This antioxidant nutrient can counteract free radicals that damage the eyes and cause cataracts (clouding) in the ocular lens. Pineapple is an excellent source of vitamin C—just one cup of pineapple packs 132% of your daily value of vitamin C, giving this tropical fruit eye-protection potential.

In a 2015 meta-analysis published in Acta Ophthalmologica, Chinese researchers from a teaching hospital in Beijing analyzed 19 original studies from 1991 to 2013 that looked at the relationship between vitamin C and age-related cataract risk worldwide. The analysis included over 23,500 people across eight countries. Overall, those with the highest versus lowest vitamin C intake had 19% lower risk of cataracts.

Cataracts are clumps of protein in the ocular lens that cloud a person’s vision. They are naturally brought on as a result of aging, but genetic and environmental factors such as smoking or diabetes play a role as well. Consuming a diet rich in antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C is one way to help lower your risk of developing age-related cataracts. Carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin found in spinach, kale and other greens have also been shown to lower risk of cataracts by as much as 18%.

We typically think of citrus when we think of vitamin C, but this nutrient is found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including pineapple. Load up on strawberries (143% daily value per cup), kiwifruit (149% per fruit) and guava, which offers a whopping 627% daily value per cup. Vegetables like red bell peppers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts also go above and beyond your daily value in each cup. Try our Sesame-Ginger Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad with Pineapple, which packs 200% of your daily vitamin C into just one meal.

BONUS: Pineapple may also protect your skin. An animal study published in the journal Cancer Letters suggests the pineapple enzyme bromelain might offer some protection against tumors due to skin cancer, making pineapple the perfect snack during long summer days in the sun.

Published July 1, 2015

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