You may have heard that the glycemic index is a great tool to use to lose weight. But that's not all it's good for. You can also use it to protect your eyes.

That's right! You can significantly lower your risk for macular degeneration and other eye problems simply by selecting foods that are low on the glycemic index. The glycemic index is a chart that rates how fast food impacts or raises your blood sugar. Foods higher on the index are typically not good for you. They raise your blood sugar too high.

A recent study evaluated 4,099 people between the ages of 55 and 80. None of the participants had diabetes. The researchers evaluated their dietary glycemic index (dGI) and subsequent risk of developing macular degeneration. The findings were striking.

Those in the top 20% of dGI (as compared to the lowest) had a 42% increased risk of large Drusen, a pathological lesion in the retina. Their risk of retinal atrophy increased by 78%. And, their risk of neovascularization increased by 41%. The latter are new fragile blood vessels that can bleed or leak into your retina and cause major damage. They also showed a 49% increased risk for advanced macular degeneration, which includes both atrophy and the bad blood vessels.

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This study was particularly disturbing since the subjects were not overtly diabetic. So you might think that you don't have big eye risk since you're not diabetic. Well, if you eat the wrong foods, you do!

Your best course of action is to eat more foods that are low on the glycemic index. If you're not sure, simple visit and enter any food you want. The website will tell you quickly where it is on the index.

Please note some surprises. Baked potatoes (a vegetable) are extremely high on the index. But most fruits are not! Watermelon is an exception. Vegetables and meats are the lowest.

Ref: "Association between dietary glycemic index and age-related macular degeneration in nondiabetic participants in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study," Chiu CJ, Taylor A, et al, J Clin Nutr07; 86(1): 180-188.

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