Our eyes are truly our windows to the world. And, while it’s normal to experience a change in eyesight as we age, it’s important that we’re doing everything we can to keep our eyes clear and healthy. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to improve your eye health: start by making the same nutritious food choices that are good for your overall health and wellness.
The Link between Nutrition and Eye Health
Various studies have been conducted that reveal certain antioxidants and nutrients have benefits for your eyesight, like reducing the risk for cataracts and macular degeneration, alleviating glaucoma and even protecting against blindness.
Plus, it’s been discovered that types of foods can have an adverse effect on your eyesight. For instance, a diet high in saturated fat and sugar has been known to increase the risk for eye disease, one of the most common causes of permanent disability in the United States.
The Best Vitamins and Foods for Eye Health
When most people think about the best foods for eye health, carrots are usually the first thing that pop into their minds. However, there are plenty of other foods packed with essential vitamins and nutrients that can improve your eye health.
The main nutrients generally associated with eye health are vitamins C and E, along with carotenoids, beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids, zinc, and vitamins B6, B9 and B12 are also known as eye-healthy nutrients.
So, what types of foods can you find these in? Here’s a list of the best foods for eye health that can help ensure you’re saving your vision for as long as possible:
Vitamins C: Colorful fruits like oranges, tangerines, grapefruit and lemons offer high levels of vitamin C, an antioxidant that is critical to eye health. You can also find plenty of vitamin C in vegetables like carrots, bell peppers, pumpkin and corn.
Vitamin E: Whole grains rich in vitamin E are found in foods like whole-wheat bread, quinoa, brown rice and pasta, and can be easily swapped out for the refined carbohydrates in white flour. Nuts like pistachios and walnuts also offer vitamin E.
Beta Carotene: Carrots pop up again here, as they’re rich in beta-carotene, which helps improve night vision. Look for other orange-colored foods like cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and apricots for more beta carotene.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Reduce your risk for macular degeneration and help prevent cataracts by incorporating more leafy greens like kale, spinach, collard greens, and squash into your diet, as these foods are all rich in lutein and zeaxanthin.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: You’ll find plenty of omega-3s in cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel and herring. Keep nuts handy to snack on, as along with vitamin E, they are also packed with omega-3s.
Flavonoids and Zinc: Incorporate plenty of legumes into your diet, like black-eyed peas, kidney beans and lentils to help protect your retina and lower the risk for macular degeneration. Lean beef can be eaten in moderation, too, as it contains both zinc and vitamin A to boost your eye health.
Adding these important foods to your diet is a great way to maintain and improve your eye health. It’s also important to visit your eye doctor annually for a vision checkup; plus, your doctor can make sure there are no underlying issues with your eyesight.