Just like other parts of your body, the aging process can slowly but surely diminish eye health. The saying goes “you are what you eat” and when it comes to caring for your eyesight, what better place to start than in the kitchen? This suggestion isn’t too far from the truth. In a study released by the National Eye Institute, it was determined that poor diet was a serious factor contributing to the development of macular degeneration and cataracts. In addition to routine check-ups, choosing nutrient-rich foods that promote eye health can help individuals maintain their ocular well-being.
The Nutrients that Matter
To start, which nutrients matter most in the name of eye health? As you may have learned in elementary school, vitamin C found in carrots plays an important role in helping individuals maintain accurate vision. However, the list of “good” nutrients goes well beyond vitamin C. Vitamins E, A, and zinc are other important nutrients that add to an eye-healthy diet. Antioxidants and carotenoids (fat-soluble pigments found in plants) such as lutein and zeaxanthin are just as important at helping protect the eyes from damage and inflammation that can result from aging.
Dr. Will’s Favorite Foods for Better Eye Health
Ready to get cooking? Luckily, these important nutrients can be found in a number of foods, making it easy to incorporate eye-focused foods into any diet. Check out these top foods recommended for getting all the right nutrition into your next meal:
Colorful Fruits and Vegetables
Who doesn’t like a pop of color on their plate? Colorful produce like tomatoes, carrots, corn and bell peppers are not only tasty, they’re also great for eye health as they contain high amounts of vitamins A and C. These veggies get their vibrant coloring from carotenoids, another key nutrient in protecting your vision.
Leafy greens like kale, collard greens, and spinach as well cruciferous vegetables, legumes, and avocados are chock full of lutein and zeaxanthin.
Boiled, scrambled or sunny-side up, eggs are an excellent source of lutein and vitamin A. In addition to promoting strong eye health and function; vitamin A also helps protect patients from blindness caused by nearsightedness or cataracts.
Low blood sugar isn’t just important for preventing diabetes. A low glycemic diet that is rich in whole grains can also lower an individual’s risk of developing macular degeneration. Some of our top favorites include quinoa, brown rice, whole-wheat bread and pasta. Whole grains are also an important source of vitamin E, zinc, and niacin.
Citrus Fruits and Berries
Now that we’re in the midst of summer, who doesn’t appreciate a good berry tart or fresh orange slices? In addition to being delicious, these fruits are high in vitamin C, a key ingredient for reducing the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Nuts, Seeds, and Legumes
Whether added to a salad or eaten as a mid-day snack, seeds and nuts are rich in important omega-3 acids and vitamin E. Legumes like beans and lentils are also high in nutrients, containing high contents of zinc and bioflavonoids. These compounds help improve retinal health as well as reduce the risk of age-related wear.
Foods like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and other forms of seafood contain a high amount of omega-3s, important nutrients that’s been found to reduce inflammation and slow the aging process. Omega-3s also help stabilize blood sugar, which can help limit the potential eye damage that may be caused by diabetes.
At Will Vision and Laser Centers, we’re proud to help our patients achieve great vision in and out of our office.