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For Healthy Eyes, Eat More Eggs

How eggs for breakfast may keep your eyes healthy
You’ve probably heard that carrots are good for your eyes, but eggs? Actually, yes. Whether you have them fried or boiled, eggs are not just a satisfying breakfast’they may also help to protect your sight.

The pigments that make eggs yellow are the same pigments that protect your eyes from the harmful rays of the sun. The retina at the back of the eye is made up of a layer of light-sensitive cells that enable us to see. In the middle there is a region called the macula where the cells are more densely packed; this region is concerned with central, highly focused vision. These cells may start to die off, particularly for people over 65, due in part to the damaging effects of UV rays in sunlight. This condition is called macular degeneration and it makes reading, driving or recognizing faces difficult or even impossible.

How do eggs protect your eyes?
There is evidence to show that increasing the amount of antioxidants in your diet can have a protective effect and the 2 antioxidants that seem to have the most benefits are lutein and zeaxanthin’the pigments that make egg yolks yellow. These pigments are made in the leaves of plants and you can find them in plant-based foods including spinach, corn and peppers. But scientists have discovered that the body takes up the lutein and zeaxanthin in egg yolks more readily, probably because they are contained in a fat-based matrix along with other micronutrients such as vitamins A, D and E.

Aren’t eggs high in cholesterol? 
Eggs contain relatively high amounts of cholesterol, which once led nutritionists to recommend limiting intake to a maximum of 3 eggs per week. It seems that the way cholesterol is processed and taken up by the body may be more complicated than previously thought. In a study conducted in 2006 at the University of Massachusetts, when patients were given 1 egg a day for 5 weeks, the levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in their blood rose significantly. The researchers also measured cholesterol in the participants’ blood and found that this was not affected.

Include more eggs in your diet
You may want to include more eggs in your diet to protect against macular degeneration. However, you should talk to your doctor about how many you should eat, as it will depend on your lifestyle and general health.

Other important ways to maintain eye health:
‘ Have your eyes checked regularly.
‘ Protect your eyes from the sun.
‘ Eat plenty of nuts, seeds and vegetables.

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