Bugs Bunny Was On to Something

rabbit with a carrot

Bugs Bunny was definitely on to something when it comes to eating healthy for your eyes. “Eh…What’s up, doc?” Orange.

Everyone knows we need to eat lots of fiber-rich carrots, right? After all, how many rabbits have you seen wearing glasses?

The Good News

Carrots are definitely good for your eyes. Their orange color comes from beta-carotene, an orange plant pigment, which the body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A helps protect the eyes from damage, as well as enables us to see at night. But eating bags of carrots won’t allow you to throw away your glasses because beta-carotene will not correct vision problems. 

And by the way, any orange fruit and veggie will do. Think: mangos, papayas, peaches, nectarines, apricots, persimmons, cantaloupe, oranges (duh), tangerines, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut and acorn squash, orange peppers.

The Newer News

But when it comes to eye health, it’s time to think outside the bag of carrots. Don’t just think orange, think yellow and green.

Yellow as in: corn, cornmeal, yellow peppers, yellow squash, egg yolks.

Green as in: broccoli, spinach, kale, collards, Swiss chard, turnip greens, Brussels sprouts, romaine lettuce, even zucchini, green peas, avocado and kiwi fruit.

If you just want to know what to do, you can stop reading right here. You got what you need: eat more of the orange, yellow, and greens foods listed above every day to help keep your eyes healthy.

But if you like to know why, read on.

Why Yellow?

The retina is the light sensitive tissue lining the inner surface of the eye that allows us to see. Two yellow plant pigments are concentrated in the retina, lutein and zeazanthin. These two pigments are absolutely critical for protecting the retina from damage so we can keep our vision.

Here’s the catch: our bodies can’t make the lutein and zeaxanthin we need. That’s why we need to eat the foods that contain these substances.

Why Green?

If these pigments are yellow, why the green foods? Because green foods, especially green leafy veggies, have generous amounts of lutein and zeazanthin as well. You don’t see the yellow color in these foods because it’s masked by the green pigment chlorophyll.

FYI: did you notice the majority of good sources for these plant pigments are natural, fiber-rich foods? Sweet.

“Eh…What’s up, doc?” Orange, yellow, and green.


Diana Fleming

Diana Fleming, PhD, LDN, is a co-author of The Full Plate Diet and Nutritionist for Full Plate Living. She received her doctoral degree from Tufts University and has since dedicated her time to translating complicated nutritional data into easy and fun concepts anyone can apply at their next meal. In her spare time, she has painstakingly perfected the ultimate healthy AND delicious chocolate chip cookie.

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