The foods contain the compounds lutein and zeaxanthin. Although yellow in color, lutein is also found in leafy greens such as kale and spinach where the green chlorophyl masks the yellow color.
The University of Georgia conducted research on how the compounds could improve the vision of athletes.
They found that lutein and zeaxanthin built up in the retina and work to improve eye health and functional vision.
Jack Harth, a doctoral candidate in UGA’s College of Public Health said: “A lot of the research into macular lutein and zeaxanthin has focused on health benefits, but from a functional perspective, higher concentrations of these plant pigments improve many aspects of visual and cognitive ability.
“In this paper, we discuss their ability to improve vision in the far distance or visual range.”
Visual range, or how well a person can see a target clearly over distance, is a critical asset for top athletes in almost any sport.
In many ball sports players struggle to see the ball against the sky thanks to blue light which makes it fuzzy.
The authors of the study published in the journal Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews said eating more foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin can improve the eye’s natural ability to handle blue light exposure.
Harth added: “In baseball, from a center fielder’s perspective, if that ball’s coming up in the air, it will be seen against a background of bright blue sky, or against a gray background if it’s a cloudy day.
“Either way, the target is obscured by atmospheric interference coming into that path of the light.”
When a person absorbs lutein and zeaxanthin, the compounds collect as yellow pigments in the retina and act as a filter to prevent blue light from entering the eye.
Corresponding author Professor Billy Hammond said: “In a long series of studies, we have shown that increasing amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin in the retina and brain decrease glare disability and discomfort and improve chromatic contrast and visual-motor reaction time.
Harth added: “We have data from modeling and empirical studies showing that higher macular pigment in your retina will improve your ability to see over distance.
“The application for athletes is clear.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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