Sorry mum, Carrots Won't Actually Improve Eyesight

Carrots

Photo: alon/Flickr

Like many kids, I didn’t like vegetables — especially carrots and broccoli. Adults frequently told me that carrots would improve my eyesight, so that seemed like a good reason to try liking them.There was one person who didn’t tell me this, he actually told me the opposite. My grand father overheard somebody tell me that carrots would improve my eyesight. He didn’t say anything immediately, but he let me in on a little secret after that person left the room — it was all a big lie. Carrots do not improve your eyesight.

Sure, carrots contain beta-carotene, which metabolizes into Vitamin A and everyone agrees that is essential for maintaining eye health, but it does not improve it (unless the body is deprived of it to begin with). Also, it really has nothing to do with carrots, the necessary vitamins can come from any source.

So where did this myth come from?

During World War II, the British were particularly good at shooting down Nazi bombers at night, when it’s almost impossible to see other planes. It was as if they had super-human sight, and they did. They had radar.

Once news stories started to circulate about these pilots with seemingly super-human eyes, the government needed a good explanation to prevent the Germans from learning about this technology. Carrots.

Flight Lieutenant John Cunningham, nicknamed “Cats Eyes” for his incredible ability to shoot down enemy planes, had a natural love for carrots. The story wrote itself and they explained that they were feeding other pilots a lot of carrots to improve their eyesight too.

This post originally appeared on Broken Secrets.

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