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Spice Up Your Life to Save Your Vision

You love them in sauces and soups or to season poultry dishes, but some common kitchen cabinet staples that help spice up your palate could also help preserve your eyesight.

Several studies have linked carnosic acid, a compound in the commonly used spices rosemary and sage, with the ability to reduce the risk of many cancers. And it’s also thought to be able to protect your skin against the harmful effect of the sun’s ultra violet A (UVA) rays.

However, a recent study conducted at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute says carnosic acid may also be able to protect againstmacular degeneration. Years ago, the Sanford-Burnham team also found carnosic acid was able to protect the brain from damage caused by free radicals, compounds that damage membranes and other cell processes.

Macular degeneration, also referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 and older, according to the National Institutes of Health. AMD does not cause pain and a common early symptom is straight lines appearing crooked. Over time, the progressive disease destroys central vision which is necessary to perform daily tasks like reading and driving. Most patients with the disease eventually lose all, or most of, their eyesight.

It’s been widely accepted that there are many causes of AMD, including a high fat diet, obesity, high blood pressure and exposure to the sun’s harmful UV A and UV B rays.

But the spicy new research has many eyeing regular consumption of rosemary and sage as a possible way to keep eyes healthy.

Wondering how to spice up your eye health?

Rosemary has a strong scent and taste, so you might want to experiment with different sauces and soups. It’s also a wonderful compliment to butters, poultry and potato dishes.

When using fresh rosemary, you can trim the needles from the stalk and chop or mince them. Dried rosemary can be crushed in your hand and then added to your recipe.

Sage is available in three forms; fresh (the most flavorful), rubbed (the leaves have been rubbed from the stems to retain much of the flavor) and dry ground sage (the least flavorful due to processing of the leaves).

And sage is good for so much more than Thanksgiving stuffing. Sprinkle some on gourmet pizza or pair it with butter for an easy and rich pasta sauce.