Eat green leafy vegetables to prevent blindness

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Prof. (Dr.) R.D. Gupta

‘Human eyes require vitamin-A, which is mostly present in leafy vegetables, prevents night blindness. Hence, one must take green leafy vegetables daily.’
The vegetables, whose green leaves are mostly consumed, are called green leafy vegetables. Drumstick leaves, fenugreek leaves, spinach, radish leaves, amaranthus, etc. are some of the examples from this angle, and are generally consumed all over the country.
Green leafy vegetables are a storehouse of a number of minerals and vitamins. These are, therefore, known as protective foods. Such protective foods are good sources of vitamin-A (as carotene), vitamin of B-complex group, especially roboflavin and Folic acid and vitamin-C vis-à-vis a rich source of iron, calcium. Apart from this, the green leafy vegetables also supply some protein though in small quantities. Although the green leafy vegetables contain less protein, yet when mixed with cereals-pulse combination enhances quality of protein of the diet. In addition to preventing blindness, leafy vegetables help in strong bones, healthy teeth and gums.
Owing to the presence of vitamin-A, green leafy vegetables are good for eyes. Vitamin-A is a nutrient, which is particularly important for the health for the eyes in small children. In the absence of adequate amounts of vitamin-A in the body, the eye balls lose their usual moist white appearance and become dry and wrinkled. There is inability to see in dim light (night blindness). This is the early stage of the vitamin-A deficiency, and if not treated in time, the eyes may become absolutely red and cornea (black portion of the eye) may eventually burst leading to permanent blindness.
There is no doubt that vitamin A-abounds mostly in animal foods like whole milk, curd, butter, ghee, cheese, egg yolk and liver but nature has endowed us with green leafy vegetables, which possess a substance known as ‘carotene’. Carotene is a precursor of vitamin-A and as such the former gets converted into the latter in our body and assist in protecting our eyes.
Green leafy vegetables by virtue of having good amounts of a carotene in them not only protect our eyes but also promote growth in children by building up resistance in bodies to diseases. As green leafy vegetables are rich source of iron, so consumption of about 50 gm of such vegetables in the daily diet can take care of body’s iron requirement considerably.
Body of human being requires nutrients like iron, folic acid, vitamin-B12 vitamin-C and proteins to make it healthy. If one does not get enough of these nutrients in our food, especially iron, he may suffer from anaemia (a condition in which the red pigment of the blood known as haemoglobin gets reduced). Anaemia can affect any age group but is more commonly present among pregnant women and children. Anaemia causes reduction in the working capacity of the person, may also lead to premature deliveries, low birth weight babies and many other abnormalities, tiredness, loss of appetite, breathlessness on slight exertion, giddiness, paleness of skin particularly inside lower eyelids, face, lips, etc.
Although leaves of drumstick tree (Moringa oleifera) are not very popular as a market vegetable yet their chemical composition have revealed a treasure of a number of nutrients and are very nutritious. It is because these are rich in vitamins such as vitamin-A and vitamin-C and minerals like calcium and iron. One cupful fresh juice of drumstick leaves provides as much vitamin-A as one gets by eating 9 eggs or half a Kg butter or 80 cups of fresh cow milk. Similarly it supplies as much vitamin-C as 6 oranges or 16 bananas or 8 apples. Leaves of this tree are also very good source of fibres, proteins and calories. It is worthwhile to mention that it was the Royal Commonwealth Society for Blind which two decades ago discovered that leaves of drumstick tree could very well be used as a medication against blindness. It saved 60,000 children in India from going blind from malnutrition, particularly those suffering from vitamin- A
deficiency.

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