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Antioxidant-Rich Diet Fights Cataracts

Earlier this year, I shared compelling information with you about polyunsaturated fats spurring the formation of cataracts, a common problem faced by the elderly. At the time, I also told you the amount of antioxidants -- specifically the lack of them -- also contributed greatly to cataracts.

Researchers have discovered an antioxidant-rich diet of fruits and vegetables may prevent the breakdown of a crucial mechanism, called the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway, that clears damaged proteins away from eye lenses. When too many of these damaged proteins accumulate, cataracts can grow on the eye.

This ubiquitin-proteasome pathway helps balance a healthy concentration of proteins within cells. Ubiquitin is a protein that identifies damaged proteins ripe for removal and attaches itself to them. These "conjugated" proteins then latch onto proteasomes (protein-degrading enzymes) finish the job of clearing away vision-sapping debris.

Because free radicals attack ubiquitin and other healthy proteins in the eye, the antioxidants contained in vitamins C and E can play an important role in protecting that pathway.

A good source of vitamins C and E, as well as beta carotene: Kiwi fruit.

USDA Agricultural Research Service August 2, 2005

USDA Agricultural Research Service August 2005 Free Full Text Article

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