You’ve likely heard that carrots are an essential food in helping people to see better. But why carrots specifically? And is there any truth to this hidden superpower of the popular orange vegetable?
The reason that carrots have long been linked to improving our vision stems primarily from a propaganda campaign from the now-defunct UK Ministry of Food during World War II.
The campaign specifically picked carrots, while also highlighting “leafy green or yellow vegetables” as “essential for night sight.”
The campaign was aimed at encouraging civilians to eat more vitamin A vegetables as a way of helping them to function better during blackouts, where no lights were permitted to show in view of bombers during air raids.
Following the war, it was rumored that the advertising campaign was actually a ruse to fool the Germans as a cover-up for the recent adoption of RADAR technology by Allied forces.
While the notion that Germans could be tricked into thinking that the British could see further due to carrot-powered vision rather than RADAR technology may seem entertaining, Bryan Legate, assistant curator at the Royal Air Force Museum in London, believes that no such ruse existed.
“I would say that whilst the Air Ministry were happy to go along with the story, they never set out to use it to fool the Germans. The German intelligence service were well aware of our ground-based radar installation and would not be surprised by the existence of radar in aircraft,” Legate explained.
“In fact, the RAF were able to confirm the existence of German airborne radar simply by fitting commercial radios into a bomber and flying over France listening to the various radio frequencies.”
It’s fascinating to think that a piece of WWII propaganda could help to position carrots as a world-renowned means for helping us to see better, but is there any truth to the claim?
Can Eating Carrots Improve Our Vision?
So, can carrots actually help us to see better? Well, sort of. While carrots are certainly an excellent vegetable for maintaining healthy vision, they can’t help to actively improve the eyesight of anybody with less-than-perfect vision.
If you’re suffering from a form of vision impairment or are fully blind, a diet of carrots won’t be capable of restoring 20/20 vision by any stretch of the imagination.
With this in mind, not even the best superfoods can act as a substitute for a good old-fashioned trip to the optician and more medically prescribed corrective action.
Fortunately, when it comes to prescription glasses, there are thousands of options to choose from and a range of different styles that can suit the tastes of the wearer.
For more extreme cases of vision loss, technology is helping to step in to provide unprecedented treatment and comfort to those with impairments, and although carrots can’t single-handedly restore vision, it’s hoped that more of us will be capable of gaining or regaining our vision through modern procedures in the future.
Carrots can Maintain Healthy Vision
Although the links between carrots and healthy vision began with a WWII propaganda campaign, there is certainly truth in the vegetable’s ability to help maintain good eyesight.
Carrots are an excellent source of beta carotene and lutein, which are antioxidants that help to prevent cases of eye damage caused by free radicals, which are compounds that can lead to damage on a cellular level. Free radicals can damage cells as a result of chronic illness and eye diseases, as well as through the aging process.
Beta carotene is a natural colorant for red, orange, and yellow plants, which means that the more orange a carrot is, the higher in beta carotene it’s likely to be.
When we consume beta carotene, our bodies convert it into vitamin A. Just like the UK Ministry of Food suggested in WWII, vitamin A deficiencies can lead to night blindness–making carrots a great vegetable to include in your diet if you want to see better in low light conditions.
When it comes to getting the most beta carotene from your carrots, your body typically absorbs and utilizes the substance more efficiently from cooked carrots, rather than eating them raw. However, there are also a wide variety of other foods that can help to maintain eye health.
While vegetables like carrots, red peppers, and dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are great for maintaining good vision, many meats and seeds can also help to keep your sight as strong as possible.
Fish are rich in omega-3 which is a form of fatty acid that can be great for eye health, while lean meat and poultry with high levels of Zinc can be great in steering vitamin A from our livers to our retinas, which helps to protect our eyes.
Even water must rightfully be regarded as an important asset in keeping our eyes healthy. This is because it can help to keep us hydrated and prevents dry eyes and the irritation that they can cause.
Carrots and a Balanced Diet are Great for Healthy Eyes
In summary, carrots are an excellent food for keeping our eyes as healthy as possible. But they’re not the only food that’s great for eye health.
By including carrots in a diet that’s rich in vitamin A, omega-3, and Zinc, we can ensure that our vision stays stronger for longer. With a healthy level of H2O added to the mix, we’re more likely to see the best results should illness or ageing begin to challenge our vision.
Although the famous links between carrots and healthy eyesight emerged as the product of World War II propaganda, there’s no doubt that the popular orange vegetable can have a positive impact on our vision. By including them as part of a balanced diet, we can expect our sight to be better for longer.