Add Some Rosemary to Your Carrots for an Extra Eye Health Boost (Recipe Included)

rosemary, eye health, age-related macular degeneration
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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common eye disease in the US and a leading cause of vision loss. Most people know that carrots contain nutrients that are beneficial to eye health, but top those carrots with rosemary and you may add to the benefit due to a compound known as carnosic acid.

Stuart A. Lipton MD PhD and colleagues at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute have found in laboratory cultures and in animal studies that carnosic acid in rosemary can protect the retina from degeneration and toxicity. The team believes that carnosic acid can fight off free radical damage in the eye may be responsible for disease.

The team exposed cells growing in a petri dish to hydrogen peroxide in order to induce oxidate stress, a factor through to contribute to disease progression in eye conditions including macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. The cells treated with carnosic acid triggered antioxidant enzyme production in the cells, which in turn, lowered levels of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (cell-damaging compounds).

In laboratory rats, animals pre-treated with carnosic acid retained a thicker outer nuclear layer in the eye, indicating that their photoreceptors (the portion of the retina which are responsible for detecting light) were protected. They also exhibited better electroretinogram activity, which is a measure of healthy photoreceptor function.

Previous studies have shown that a healthy diet rich in green, leafy vegetables and fish have a lower risk of developing AMD. The beta-carotene content in carrots may also help protect the eye. Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A which helps guard the cornea (surface of the eye) which can help prevent damage resulting in eye disease such as macular degeneration.

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A Meal for Eye Health
Baked Salmon Fillet (from Cooks.com) – Place 1 pound of salmon on aluminum foil. Top with diced onion and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Wrap loosely and bake at 325 degrees for approximately 25 minutes.
Sauteed Spinach and Garlic (from Food Network) – In a large sauté pan, heat ¼ cup of extra virgin olive until hot. Add 1 ¼ pounds fresh spinach (washed and trimmed) and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Add 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced, when the spinach is bright green and slightly wilted. Continue to stir for 30 seconds. Remove spinach from heat and squeeze one lemon over the top. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes, Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Toss and serve.
Glazed Carrots with Rosemary (Recipe from Taste of Home’s Holiday and Celebrations Cookbook)

Ingredients
• 4 pounds medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices
• 6 cups chicken broth
• 1/2 cup white wine or additional chicken broth
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1/2 cup butter, cubed
• 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed
• 1 teaspoon white pepper

Directions
• In a large saucepan, combine the carrots, broth, wine and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 7-9 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and discard liquid.
• Add the remaining ingredients. Cook and stir over low heat until glazed and heated through.

Yield: 13 servings (1/2 cup each).

Nutritional Facts: 1/2 cup equals 137 calories, 7 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 19 mg cholesterol, 202 mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 1 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 vegetable, 1 fat, 1/2 starch.

Journal Reference:
T. Rezaie, et al. Protective effect of carnosic acid, a pro-electrophilic compound, in models of oxidative stress and light-induced retinal degeneration. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 2012; DOI: 10.1167/iovs.12-10793

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