Are you eating the foods that are best for your eyes? There’s more to eye nutrition than just carrots. Maintaining a well-balanced, healthy diet is key to keeping your eyes healthy, and may help reduce your risk for developing eye conditions.
Serious eye conditions may be avoided if you include foods that contain a range of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, known as antioxidants. Eye conditions that you may be able to prevent with a healthy diet include:
- cataracts, which cause cloudy vision
- age-related macular degeneration, which can limit your eyesight
- dry eyes
- poor night vision
These antioxidants ward off oxidants that can affect your health in negative ways.
Your eyes need many types of antioxidants to stay healthy. These include:
- vitamins A, C, E
- omega-3 fatty acids
In this article, you will learn which foods boost your eye health and help protect against sight-threatening diseases.
Fish, particularly salmon, can be a great food to consume for eye health. Salmon and other fish have omega-3 fatty acids. These are “healthy” fats. Omega-3 fatty acids can contribute to visual development and the health of the retina in the back of the eye. They can also help prevent dry eyes.
Consider incorporating fish into your meal plan a few days a week. When buying fish, choose a wild-caught version instead of farm-raised fish. That’s because farm-raised fishes have more saturated fat and less omega-3s than wild-caught fishes.
Salmon, and most fish, can be grilled or broiled. Try seasoning it with fresh herbs, lemons, and salt and pepper for a simple and delicious dinner.
Eggs are a great food to eat for eye health. The yolks contain vitamin A, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc, which are all vital to eye health. Vitamin A safeguards the cornea. The cornea is the surface of the eye. Lutein and zeaxanthin lower the chance of getting serious eye conditions like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Zinc contributes to the health of the retina. The retina is the back of the eye. Zinc also helps eyes see at night.
Eggs are extremely versatile and can work for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A simple way to enjoy eggs is by hard-boiling them. Try them in salads and sandwiches. You can even eat a hard-boiled egg for a snack.
Carrots are well-known to be good for eye health. Like egg yolks, carrots have vitamin A and also beta carotene. Vitamin A and beta carotene help the surface of the eye and can also help prevent eye infections and other serious eye conditions.
Carrots are easy to eat on the go. Toss them in salads and soups for some added nutrition.
Almonds, like other nuts and seeds, are generally good for eye health. Almonds contain vitamin E. This vitamin guards against unstable molecules that target healthy tissue. Consuming regular amounts of vitamin E can help prevent age-related macular degeneration as well as cataracts. You should aim for about 22 international units (IU), or 15 mg of vitamin E a day. One serving of almonds is about 23 nuts, and has 11 IU. Other nuts and seeds that contain vitamin E include sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, and peanuts.
You can enjoy almonds as a snack at any time. They are also tasty in your breakfast cereal, yogurt, or in salads. Just remember to keep an eye on serving size. Almonds are high in calories, so try to limit your intake to one to two servings a day.
Oranges and other citrus fruit contain vitamin C, which is key for eye health. The vitamin, found mainly in fresh fruits and vegetables, contributes to healthy blood vessels in your eyes. It can combat the development of cataracts, and in combination with other vitamins and nutrients, age-related macular degeneration.
To enjoy oranges, you can drink orange juice, peel one as a snack, or add them to a fruit salad.
Dairy products such as milk and yogurt can be good for the eyes. They contain vitamin A as well as the mineral zinc. Vitamin A protects the cornea while zinc helps bring that vitamin to the eyes from the liver. Zinc is found throughout the eye, especially the retina and choroid, which is the vascular tissue that lies under the retina. This important mineral helps with night vision as well as the prevention of cataracts. Dairy from grass-fed cows provides the most benefits.
Dairy can be consumed throughout your day. You can drink a glass with a meal or enjoy it in coffee and tea, or breakfast cereal. Yogurt is a healthy option for breakfast or as a snack.
7. Leafy Greens
Spinach, kale and collard greens, to name a few, are full of lutein and zeaxanthin, plant pigments that can help stem the development of macular degeneration and cataracts. Broccoli, peas and avocados are also good sources of this powerful antioxidant duo.
8. Whole Grains
A diet containing foods with a low glycemic index (GI) can help reduce your risk for age-related macular degeneration. Swap refined carbohydrates for quinoa, brown rice, whole oats and whole-wheat breads and pasta. The vitamin E, zinc and niacin found in whole grains also help promote overall eye health.
Tips for Eye Health
It’s important that you take care of your eyes on a regular basis to maintain eye health. Eating eye-healthy foods is not the only way to protect your eyes. Other ways you can keep your eyes healthy include:
- visiting an eye doctor every one to two years
- wearing sunglasses when outdoors
- avoiding smoking
- maintaining a healthy weight
- wearing protective eye gear when engaging in sports, hobbies, home projects, or work-related activities
- managing blood sugar
Eye Health: Q&A
A healthy diet is essential for eye health. You should limit consumption of unhealthy foods that are processed, contain saturated fats, or are high in sugar. Maintaining a diet high in antioxidants will prevent the development of serious eye conditions and ensure your eyes work their best.
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