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It’s no secret that our vision tends to get worse as we get older.
In fact, while many of us start out with perfect visual acuity — that 20/20 vision score based on how far down we can read letters on the eye chart — it starts going in the opposite direction (up to where the letters get bigger and bigger) typically with age.
But science has found you can improve your visual acuity. And it has nothing to do with surgery, glasses or carrots — all things that can improve your sight. Nope, this time it’s all about waking up your nervous system to effectively process the visual information your eyes register.
And you’re going to love this sweet way it works…
Polyphenols and flavanols that boost attention and acuity
The answer is cocoa!
Yup, a good old glass of hot chocolate could be all you need to maintain healthy visual acuity and even improve what you’ve already got.
In fact, in a head-to-head test, Spanish researchers pitted cocoa against the anthocyanins found in red berries and it was cocoa for the win.
The study, published in the Journal of Functional Foods, set out to analyze the effects of these two dietary polyphenols since they were known to stimulate the central nervous system similar to the effects of coffee.
The theory was that when you wake up your nervous system, you improve your attention and therefore the likelihood that your brain will pick up the small details your eyes might normally gloss over.
And at least when it came to the flavanols in cocoa powder, they were right.
The team asked volunteers to drink either a glass of milk with 2.5 grams (a little more than half a teaspoon) of pure, natural cocoa powder, berries or just plain old milk on three separate visits.
They then not only measured the levels of the polyphenols in their urine after three hours, they also put their vision to the test. To measure their visual acuity, each person as asked to read those standard letter charts we all know so well under different lighting conditions.
And sure enough, while the red berries didn’t seem to help, cocoa actually improved visual acuity in the participants in “daylight” condiitons.
A simply sweet benefit of being a chocolate lover!
Cocoa plus other vision boosters
It may seem unbelievable that cocoa could help your sight, so let me tell you: this isn’t the first study to find a tasty connection to sharper eyes. Researchers at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas found that eating dark chocolate can give your vision a boost in just two hours.
But adding cocoa flavanols to your daily diet isn’t the only way to keep your vision sharp…
One study by researchers from the University College London even found that looking at deep red light can improve vision as you age by boosting the sensitivity of the rods and cones in your eyes. But be sure to pick out a high-quality red light therapy device.
And another discovered that reading outdoors “kicks your brain’s visual cells into high gear, improving your vision and allowing your brain to extract more information from your surroundings.”
Additionally, consider adding eye-saving nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin to your supplement regimen since they support contrast and light sensitivity. Even better, the nutrient combo is known to increase macular pigment which guards your eyes against the blue light produced by devices like your smartphone to protect against future eye problems.
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Visual Acuity — American Optometric Association