eye, vitamin A

Can Bananas Prevent Blindness?

Read Time: 2 minutes

As it turns out, bananas may have more benefits than just potassium and happy heart health going for them! If you can believe it, brand new insights into the nature of bananas indicate that these remarkable fruits may actually have the potential to stop you from going blind!

Researchers are saying that certain varieties of the fruit contain high levels of carotenoids, which are organic pigments that get transformed into vitamin A within the liver. This, in turn, can protect the eyes from disease.

Step Aside, Carrots: It’s in the Carotenoids

Carrots have long to be said to be the “eye vegetable,” but there’s more to be said for bananas than we previously thought. The Vitamin A within bananas contains compounds that keep the membranes around your eyes intact. Vitamin A also plays a part with the proteins that deliver light to the cornea.bananas

A new study was recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, in which scientists reveal findings from analyzing two varieties of bananas to discover why they produce differing amounts of carotenoids. The lighter-yellow Cavendish variety makes more of the enzyme that deconstructs carotenoids. Meanwhile, the orange Asupina banana stores carotenoids in small sacs while ripening, which alters the chemical equilibrium to produce higher levels of these compounds.

The changing yellow and orange colors of the varieties reflect the increased levels of carotenoids as they accumulate during the fruit’s development.

The impact of this study will provide knowledge to assist in the reproduction and biofortification of bananas that have more carotenoids. This means that more bananas may be bred with higher levels of carotenoids to address Vitamin A deficiency.

Impact on Demographics With Vitamin A Deficiency

The results of this study will greatly benefit those demographics who suffer from, or who are at risk of, a Vitamin A deficiency. In Africa and Southeast Asia, Vitamin A deficiencies cause an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 cases of blindness in children every year. Within a year of losing their sight, half of that estimated number of children will die.

Those within developing nations aren’t the only ones at risk of Vitamin A deficiency, however. The diet of older generations centers more around eggs, milk and liver that naturally have Vitamin A, but millennials ten toward low-fat diets and rely more on the beta-carotene type of nutrition. In these cases, a banana (or several) a day could keep blindness away.

Bananas are now at the forefront of the battle against Vitamin A deficiency and blindness. Since new research suggests that bananas may be produced with higher levels of carotenoids to combat eye disease well into old age, you might want to grab a banana before heading to work in the morning.

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Category: Chemistry

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Article by: Megan Ray Nichols

Megan Ray Nichols is a freelance science writer and science enthusiast. Her favorite subjects include astronomy and the environment. Megan is also a regular contributor to The Naked Scientists, Thomas Insights, and Real Clear Science. When she isn't writing, Megan loves watching movies, hiking, and stargazing.