- 5 Top Foods for Eye Health
- Kale: See the Light
- Sweet Potatoes: The Color of Health
- Strawberries: Help You “C” Better
- Salmon: Not Just Omega-3s
- Green Tea: Antioxidant Powerhouse
- Top foods to help protect your vision
- Nutrients to consider
- Finding the nutrients
- 10 Foods That Can Help Improve Your Vision
- 4 Nutrition Tips for Eye Health
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- B Vitamins
- Weight and Diet
- The Best Foods For Eye Health
- Sweet Potatoes And Oranges
- Eggs And Leafy Greens
- Another Component Of Eye Health Is Eye Exams!
- Vision Source® is here to help your eyes stay healthy for life!
- The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions
- 7 Best Foods for Eyes
- Healthy Foods For Healthy Eyes
- Important Building Blocks Of Eye Health
- Lutein & Zeaxanthin
- Vitamins C and E
- Vitamin A and Zinc
- Eye-Healthy Recipes
- Diet Is Only One Piece Of The Puzzle
- These Are The Best Foods for Eye Health
- Leafy Greens
- Bell Peppers
- Butternut Squash
- Look to Fruits and Vegetables for Good Eye Health
- Visit an eye care professional for regular eye exams. This will help you learn about and get treated for vision problems as early as possible
- Research References
- Eat These Foods for Healthy Eyes
5 Top Foods for Eye Health
ColorBlind Images/Blend Images/Thinkstock
Do your eyes have all the nutrients they need to help prevent cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma and other sight woes? Read on to learn about some of the top foods for eye health.
But don't count on popping a pill to get these nutrients — your best sources of vitamins and antioxidants are from whole foods, since it may be a food's combination of nutrients that have a synergistic effect.
Kale: See the Light
This leafy green is a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are related to vitamin A and beta carotene, and may help protect eye tissues from sunlight damage and reduce the risk of eye changes related to aging.
Other good sources of these nutrients include dark green leafy vegetables such as collard greens, turnip greens and spinach, broccoli, peas, kiwi, red grapes, yellow squash, oranges, corn, mangoes and honeydew melon.
Your body needs fat to absorb lutein and zeaxanthin, so be sure to eat them with a bit of healthy fat such as a drizzle of olive oil or a few slices of avocado. And kale isn't just a one-note food — it contains vitamin C and beta carotene, other eye-friendly nutrients.
Sweet Potatoes: The Color of Health
These orange tubers are a good source of beta carotene. Your body converts beta carotene to vitamin A, a nutrient that helps prevent dry eyes and night blindness. Beta carotene and vitamin A also may help reduce the risk eye infections.
Sweet potatoes not your favorite? For beta carotene, try other deep orange foods, such as carrots and butternut squash, plus dark green foods including spinach and collard greens. Liver, milk and eggs are other great sources of vitamin A.
And, similar to lutein and zeaxanthin, beta carotene and vitamin A are absorbed best when eaten with a little healthy fat such as olive oil.
Strawberries: Help You “C” Better
Fresh, juicy strawberries are a good thing for your eyes, and contain plenty of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that may help lower your risk of cataracts. Also, be sure to load up your plate with other vitamin C-rich foods including bell peppers, broccoli, citrus (such as orange and grapefruit) and cantaloupe.
Salmon: Not Just Omega-3s
Salmon is a good source of vitamin D, which may help protect against macular degeneration. You also can get vitamin D by enjoying sardines, mackerel, milk and orange juice fortified with vitamin D.
In addition, salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may be beneficial for eye health.
Get some healthy fats every day in the form of salmon or other types of fish (two to three times per week), walnuts (which also contain eye-healthy vitamin E), flax and chia seeds.
Green Tea: Antioxidant Powerhouse
A cup of green tea is more than relaxing and delicious — its antioxidants may help keep eyes healthy. Green tea contains healthful substances called catechins, which are responsible for its antioxidant properties. Other foods that are that are high in catechins include red wine, chocolate, berries and apples. Black tea also boasts catechins, but in lower amounts than its green cousin.
Top foods to help protect your vision
You'll want to concentrate on yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, plus egg yolks and fatty, cold-water fish.
When it comes to protecting your vision, what you eat may affect what you see.
Certain vitamins and minerals found in food may play a role in preventing two common causes of vision problems: cataracts—cloudy areas in the lens of the eye—and age-
related macular degeneration (AMD)—a condition that causes vision loss in the macula, the part of the eye that controls central vision. “While there is no definite proof, some studies suggest that eating a diet rich in certain nutrients may help,” says Dr. Ivana Kim, associate professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.
Nutrients to consider
Some evidence shows that dietary antioxidant vitamins and minerals (A, C, and E, and the mineral zinc) may help prevent the progression of macular degeneration.
“The retina, especially the macula, is thought to be an environment of high oxidative stress, meaning that there is an abundance of free radicals—molecules that damage proteins and DNA within cells.
Antioxidants fight free radicals and are thought to help protect the retina from this damage,” explains Dr. Kim.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids found in the retina, and dietary intake of these compounds has been shown to have antioxidant properties and to improve pigment density in the macula. This pigment protects the cells in the macular area by absorbing excess blue and ultraviolet light and neutralizing free radicals. Lutein and zeaxanthin are usually found together in food.
Dietary intake of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) may be important to retinal health. “DHA is present in high concentrations in the outer segments of retinal photoreceptors,” says Dr. Kim. “Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, and there is evidence to suggest that inflammation plays a role in AMD.”
Finding the nutrients
You'll find lutein and zeaxanthin in most fruits and vegetables, especially yellow and orange varieties and leafy greens. Egg yolks are an even richer source of these nutrients.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in coldwater fish, flaxseed, and walnuts. Good sources of zinc include red meat and shellfish.
You'll find vitamins A, C, and E in many vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
Research hasn't proved how much of these nutrients we need in order to help prevent eye problems, but Dr. Kim suggests following a heart-healthy diet with fish at least twice a week and at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
|Lutein, zeaxanthin||Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, corn, eggs, kale, nectarines, oranges, papayas, romaine lettuce, spinach, squash|
|Omega-3 fatty acids||Flaxseed, flaxseed oil, halibut, salmon, sardines, tuna, walnuts|
|Vitamin A||Apricots, cantaloupe (raw), carrots, mangos, red peppers (raw), ricotta cheese (part-skim), spinach, sweet potatoes|
|Vitamin C||Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, red peppers (raw), strawberries|
|Vitamin E||Almonds, broccoli, peanut butter, spinach, sunflower seeds, wheat germ|
|Zinc||Chickpeas, oysters, pork chops, red meat, yogurt|
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
10 Foods That Can Help Improve Your Vision
Hopefully most of us have made it through allergy season with our mental and well-being in tack – not to mention our visuals as well. It’s been a rough road to recovery with piles of tissues, bottles of nasal sprays, vials of lubricating eye drops for those dry eyes. And as usual, the schedule for eye appointments always peaks right around allergy season time here at the office.
If there is one thing we locals in Asheville know is one the best remedies for combating allergies, it’s the fact you must eat the local honey! It’s pretty much common knowledge the local honey infuses your body with the necessary antibiotics to fight off or minimize allergies. Isn’t it funny how we’re quick to access this local wisdom when it comes to something as common as allergies, but when it comes to knowing what you can eat to prevent dry eyes, macular degeneration and even cataracts not so much?
Most of the time we don’t really give much thought to our vision until something goes wrong. Given the fact we’re living in an age of “information overload,” life has become very busy.
Sometimes we’re not aware something is broken or not operating properly until the warning signals start to beep and go off. In the world of eye health care that would be blurry vision, headaches and/or watery eye symptoms.
Yet, much of what we see can be prevented or kept at bay with one simple step.
WATCH WHAT YOU EAT.
One powerful and simple step you can take in protecting your precious sense of sight is by taking mindful steps around your diet; watch what you eat.
We don’t often connect the dots between our vision and what we had for breakfast, lunch or dinner but we should.
When we bring a sense of intention to what we eat, we empower ourselves to better care for our vision long before a visit to the eye doctor is required.
So, we thought we’d give you a hand by providing you a quick “check list” of foods that are powerful health agents and high in antioxidants. This way the next time you’re out to grab a bite to eat or you’re at the grocery store shopping for your weekly meal plans, you’ll have a head start on what to include on your food list.
Cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may help protect against dry eyes, macular degeneration and even cataracts. If you don’t eat seafood, you can get a good supply of omega-3s by using fish oil supplements or taking vegetarian supplements that contain black currant seed oil or flaxseed oil.
Spinach, kale and collard greens, to name just a few, are packed full of lutein and zeaxanthin, important 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.
The vitamins and nutrients in eggs, including lutein and vitamin A (which may protect against night blindness and dry eyes), promote eye health and function.
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.
Citrus Fruits and Berries
Oranges, grapefruits, lemons and berries are high in vitamin C, which may reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Pistachios, walnuts, almonds — whichever type tickles your fancy — are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E that boost your eye health.
Kidney beans, black-eyed peas and lentils are good sources of bioflavonoids and zinc — and can help protect the retina and lower the risk for developing macular degeneration and cataracts.
Fish Oil, Flaxseed Oil and Black Currant Seed Oil
These super supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids and have many eye health benefits, including helping to prevent or control dry eye syndrome as well as reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
Help keep your eyes healthy and disease-free by snacking on sunflowers seeds, which are excellent sources of vitamin E and zinc.
In moderation, lean beef in your diet can boost your eye health. Beef contains zinc, which helps your body absorb vitamin and may play a role in reducing risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration.
4 Nutrition Tips for Eye Health
Macular degeneration is an eye condition that typically affects older adults. It results in vision loss because of damage to the retina. Although damage to the eyes is irreversible, you can take steps to prevent additional damage. Several large medical studies have found that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may decrease your risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Here are four nutrition tips to maintain healthy eyes:
Fruits and Vegetables
The nutrients in fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants, which can help maintain healthier eyes. Fruits and vegetables also provide protection because the nutrients in such foods provide antioxidants that our bodies cannot synthesize.
For example, lutein and zeaxanthin are important antioxidants that help prevent degeneration in the lens and retina. Eating a diet rich in these carotenoids helps reduce the risk of AMD by fighting oxidation in the cells of the eyes.
Foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin are typically dark-colored fruits and vegetables, including:
- collard greens
- yellow corn
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Eating fatty fish, salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines, that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids also helps lower the risk of AMD.
Omega-3 fatty acids are rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is important for eye health and visual function. People with dry eye syndrome (i.e.
, low tear production) can benefit from a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids because dry eye is linked to low levels of DHA.
However, studies from the age-related eye disease study (AREDS2) have found that omega-3 fatty acid vitamin supplements did not provide protection. That means it’s better to eat the fish than take omega-3 supplements. It’s important to note that heavy consumption of fish can contribute to high mercury levels.
You can also find omega-3 fatty acids in plant-based sources, such as:
- seeds (flax seeds and chia seeds)
- dark, leafy greens (romaine, arugula, spinach)
Higher levels of B vitamins may lower your risk of developing AMD. Foods that are high in vitamins B6 include:
Food that are high in vitamin B12 include:
Eating more red meat may increase your risk of AMD because red meat is higher in iron. The iron can accumulate in the retina and increase oxidative stress.
Weight and Diet
Having extra body fat can increase your risk for AMD because obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes, have a negative effect on eye health. Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids can help maintain a healthy weight, which may lead to better eye protection.
Consider large salads as your main course for lunch and dinner, adding relatively small amounts of animal protein, if desired, as garnish. You also can opt for low-glycemic foods, such as whole grain breads and pastas, which can lower the risk of AMD by stabilizing blood glucose levels.
Remember that eating a healthy diet is not only good for your body, it’s also great for your eyes.
This content was last updated on: October 28, 2019
The Best Foods For Eye Health
That’s actually a leftover idea from World War II propaganda. The British didn’t want enemy soldiers to learn about their new radar technology, so they claimed their airmen got their night vision by eating carrots! Whether or not the Germans fell for it, the idea stuck around.
So is there any truth to it? Maybe not to the part about superior night vision, but carrots and other foods do contain nutrients that help our eyes stay healthy!
Sweet Potatoes And Oranges
Two important antioxidants that help us stay healthy are vitamins C and E. Vitamin C can lower our risk of developing cataracts and may even slow down the progression of age-related macular degeneration.
The easiest way to get vitamin C is by eating plenty of citrus fruit, such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons.
Vitamin E protects our eyes from “free radicals,” molecules that disrupt healthy tissue, and you can get it by eating sweet potatoes and nuts!
Fish are the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for brain function and a healthy immune system. Research has shown that they also play a critical role in our visual development and retinal function.
Eggs And Leafy Greens
Studies have shown that the nutrients lutein and xeazanthin are linked to a lowered risk of chronic eye diseases cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, and the foods that have the most of these are eggs and leafy greens!
Carrots, along with other yellow, orange, or leafy green fruits and veggies, is an excellent source of vitamin A. These types of produce get their color from beta-carotene.
Our intestines use beta-carotene to make vitamin A, which helps our eyes convert light into brainwaves and is an important component of our corneas (the clear part of the front of our eyes).
Vitamin A deficiency leaves up to half a million children blind each year!
Oysters are a great source of zinc. Why do we need zinc? It’s essential to many processes in our bodies, including helping vitamin A get from our livers to our retinas. It doesn’t matter how much vitamin A we eat if it can’t get to where it needs to go! If you’re not a fan of oysters, you can get your zinc in smaller doses from meats, beans, and nuts.
Another Component Of Eye Health Is Eye Exams!
Your eyes are sure to benefit when you add more of these nutritious foods to your diet, but even the healthiest food isn’t a substitute for regular eye exams! Poor nutrition isn’t the only thing that can cause eye problems, which is why it’s crucial to schedule appointments with your local Vision Source® member optometrist, especially if you’ve noticed any changes in your vision.
Vision Source® is here to help your eyes stay healthy for life!
Find a Vision Source® practice near you using our search tool.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions
7 Best Foods for Eyes
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
A balanced diet is best created with a variety of proteins, dairy, fruits, and vegetables. Try to eat a rainbow during your day, incorporating many types of foods in many different colors. You should limit consumption of unhealthy foods that are processed, contain saturated fats, or are high in sugar.
Here are seven of the best foods for your eyes. Most are generally available year-round and for a reasonable price. You can enjoy them on their own or in more complex recipes.
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 salmon, choose a wild-caught version instead of farm-raised salmon. That’s because farm-raised salmon has more saturated fat and less omega-3s than wild-caught salmon.
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 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 hardboiled egg for a snack.
Almonds, 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, or ¼ cup, 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.
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.
Carrots are well-known to be good for eye health. 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. Julianne whole carrots or keep a bag of baby carrots handy for an afternoon or evening snack. Toss them in salads and soups for some added nutrition, or shred them up and add them to muffin or pancake batter.
Kale is known as a superfood by many because it contains so many important vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. It’s extremely good for eye health. Kale has the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, also found in eggs and other foods.
These nutrients may help to prevent serious eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Lutein and zeaxanthin aren’t made in the body, so you have to incorporate them into your diet. A 100 gram serving of kale, which is about 1 ½ cups, contains 11.
4 mg of lutein, and it’s recommended you get 10 mg per day. Other vegetables high in lutein are red peppers and spinach.
Kale can be made into snack chips. First wash the leaves, then tear them into small pieces; toss it in olive oil, and bake it 20 minutes or so, until the kale gets crispy. You can season them with a light sprinkle of salt. You can also sauté kale for a side dish or serve it in a salad.
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.
A healthy diet is essential for eye health. Maintaining a diet high in antioxidants will prevent the development of serious eye conditions and ensure your eyes work their best. Try to eat a variety of whole, unprocessed foods on a daily basis. See your doctor if you experience problems with your eyes, as early intervention can prevent more serious conditions from developing.
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
Healthy Foods For Healthy Eyes
What we choose to eat is one of the most important variables to our health. It affects our weight, our energy levels, our risk of many types of disease—the list goes on and on. Today, the item on that list we’re most interested in is how diet affects eye health.
Important Building Blocks Of Eye Health
Our eyes need certain nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to maintain peak functionality, so the foods we eat can make a big difference to our vision, especially in the long term.
Lutein & Zeaxanthin
Studies have linked these two nutrients to a reduced risk of chronic eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. The best sources of them in our diet are eggs and leafy greens.
Vitamins C and E
Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is an antioxidant that may lower the risk of developing cataracts and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and loss of visual acuity.
Citrus fruits are great sources of vitamin C, but most other fruits and vegetables also contain it. Vitamin E is another antioxidant. It protects our eyes from dangerous molecules called “free radicals” that disrupt healthy tissue.
Nuts and sweet potatoes are great sources.
Vitamin A and Zinc
The mineral zinc is an important “helper molecule” for all kinds of healthy processes in our bodies, including transporting vitamin A from the liver to the retina.
No matter how many carrots we eat, the vitamin A is useless without zinc.
Oysters have by far the most zinc per serving of any food, but it’s also present in other meats, beans, and nuts.
Vitamin A helps our eyes convert light into brainwaves and is integral to the structure of the cornea (the clear structure at the front of the eye). Vitamin A deficiency leads to blindness in between a quarter and half a million children every year.
So how do we get vitamin A? By eating foods with beta-carotene, vitamin A’s key ingredient. That’s where carrots come in, but it’s present in other yellow, orange, and leafy green fruits and vegetables. It’s actually what gives them their color!
To learn a bit more about Vitamin A and how carrots affect our vision, watch the video below:
[iframe https://www..com/embed/MpYnx3RUuzs?rel=0 620 349]
Knowing what foods are healthy for your eyes is one thing, but finding great recipes is another! Try this baby carrot soup for a delicious way to get that much needed Vitamin A, or this roasted wild salmon and dill for your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Do you have any additional eye-healthy recipes to share? Let us know in the comments below!
Diet Is Only One Piece Of The Puzzle
Eating all the right foods to promote healthy eyes is certainly a great step, but it’s not a replacement for regular eye exams. Problems unrelated to nutrition can still occur, and early detection is crucial for dealing with those problems. If it’s been a while since your last eye exam, we’d love to see you!
These Are The Best Foods for Eye Health
The health of our eyes is dependent upon many different components of our lifestyle and genetics. Some fall outside our control; others we have the opportunity to regulate and improve on our own.
One of the best things you can do for your vision and long-term eye health is to eat a balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats and sugar, says Christine Joy, OD, a VSP Network doctor. Specifically, vitamins A, C, E, and zinc are especially beneficial to your eyes.
As it turns out, a lot of the produce and ingredients that are in season in the fall are especially high in these key vitamins.
Of course, the best way to maintain your eye health is by getting an annual eye exam with an eye doctor to check for vision issues (and other serious diseases diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and certain types of cancers that can be detected from an eye exam), but it’s easy to add a few of these ingredients into your diet to take better care of your eyes and overall health long-term. Here are Joy's recommendations for what foods we should be eating for better vision this season.
Dark leafy greens kale are in season now through November, and contain key nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin.
Both of these antioxidants are found in high concentrations in your macula, the center of your retina that’s responsible for what you see directly in front of you.
The body doesn’t naturally make all of these nutrients it needs, so it’s important our diet contains them. Eating lots of leafy greens kale and spinach will help protect your vision and reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, too.
Although bell peppers are available year-round, their peak season is September through October.
These brightly colored peppers help to keep the surface of the eyes healthy and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Just one cup of bell peppers provides 100 percent (!) of the recommended daily value of vitamins A and C. Plus, bell peppers are fat-free, low-calorie, and contain three grams of fiber per cup.
Harvested in September through November, pumpkins are a fall staple that contain eye-healthy nutrients, including vitamins A, C and E, zinc, fiber, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These micronutrients help combat age-related macular degeneration, dry eye syndrome, and cataracts.
RELATED: We Know Pumpkin Tastes Great, But Is It Good for You?
With Thanksgiving fast approaching, it can be reassuring to know that turkey is good for your eyes. This protein is loaded with zinc and B-vitamin niacin, which can help prevent cataracts.
With peak season lasting from early fall through winter, butternut squash is especially rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and omega-3s. Foods rich in omega-3s can help protect tiny blood vessels in the eyes and improve dry eye symptoms, and foods loaded with zinc can help prevent cataracts.
RELATED: 7 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Eat Every Day for Long-Term Health and Happiness
Look to Fruits and Vegetables for Good Eye Health
- Also available in Portable Document Format (PDF)
Eating more fruits and vegetables can help protect against eye disease and help your overall health. * Research supports this.
1-10 To keep your eyes healthy, you should eat foods rich in certain vitamins and minerals. These vitamins and minerals are called antioxidants. Antioxidants help keep our cells and tissues healthy.
The following foods may help stop or slow certain eye diseases.
|Eggs, kale, spinach, turnip greens, collard greens,romaine lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, corn, gardenpeas and Brussels sprouts.||Lutein & Zeaxanthin|
|Red berries, kiwi, red and green bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, and juices made fromguava, grapefruit, and orange.||Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)|
|Vegetable oils, nuts, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, avocados, wheat germ,and whole grains.||Vitamin E|
|Carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, eggs, and green leafy vegetables.||Vitamin A & Beta Carotene|
|Salmon, sardines, flax seeds, soybeans, and walnuts.||Essential Fatty Acids|
|Red meat, poultry, oysters and other seafood, nuts, dried beans, soy foods, milk and other dairy products, whole grains, and fortified breakfast cereals.||Zinc|
Visit an eye care professional for regular eye exams. This will help you learn about and get treated for vision problems as early as possible
*WARNING: Talk with your health care provider before changing your diet or taking vitamin supplements. Some people have health conditions or take medicines that could be affected by a change in diet or vitamin supplements.
Prepared by the Vision Health Integration and Preservation Program, a collaboration of Healthy Eyes Alliance (formerly Prevent Blindness Tri-State) and the New York State Department of Health.
- (2001). “A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and zinc for age-related macular degeneration and vision loss: AREDS report no. 8” Arch Ophthalmol 119(10): 1417-36.
- Richer, S., W. Stiles, et al (2004).”Double-masked, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of lutein and antioxidant supplementation in the intervention of atrophobic age-relatedmacular degeneration: the Veterans LAST study (Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial).” Optometry 75(4): 216-30.
- Stringham, J. M.and B. Hammond (2008). “Macular Pigment and Visual Performance Under Glare Conditions.” Optometry & Vision Science 85(2): 82-88.
- Cho E. et al. (2001). “Prospective study of dietary fat and the risk of age-related macular degeneration.” Am. J. Clin.Nutr. 73: 209-218.
- ConnorW. E., et al. (1992). “Essential fatty acids: the importance of n-3 fatty acids in the retina and brain.”Nutr Rev 50(4): 21-29.
- Grahn, B. H., P. G.Paterson, et al. (2001). “Zinc and the eye.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 20(2 Suppl): 106-118.
- Meyer, B. J. et al. (2003). “Dietary intakes and food sources of omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.” Lipids 38(4): 391-8.
- Christen, W. G., S. Lieu et al. (2008)”Dietary carotenoids, vitamins C and E, and risk of cataract in women: a prospective study.” Archives of Ophthalmology 126(1): 102-9.
- Seddon,J. M., et al. (1994). “Dietary carotenoids, vitamins A, C, and E, and advanced age-related macular degeneration. Eye Disease Case-Control StudyGroup.” Jama 272(18): 1413-20.
- Age-Related Disease Study Research Group (2007). “The Relationship of Dietary Carotenoid and Vitamin A, E and C Intake with Age-Related Macular Degeneration in a Case- Control Study. AREDS Report No. 22.” Arch Ophthalmol 125(9):1225-1232.
Eat These Foods for Healthy Eyes
A healthy diet provides essential nutrients that help keep your eyes healthy. For example, vitamin A is essential for vision, and a deficiency can result in a disorder called night-blindness.
Additional research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may help protect eyes from retinal degeneration and ease the discomfort of dry eyes.
Of course, it's important to point out that researchers used large amounts of nutrients in these studies—similar to what you may find in specially formulated dietary supplements. The following foods are high in one or more of these eye-protecting nutrients.
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman
Take carrots, for example. Carrots provide vitamin A and its precursor, beta-carotene. Vitamin A is essential for vision because it's needed to form rhodopsin, which is a protein that absorbs light in the retina.
Vitamin A is also necessary for the normal function of the cornea and membranes that surround your eyes.
Carrots are also rich in potassium and fiber while being low in calories and almost fat-free.
Serve carrot sticks with a low-calorie veggie dip, top a salad with chopped carrots, or serve cooked carrots as a healthy side dish.
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman
Oranges are good for your vision because they're an excellent source of vitamin C, which was used in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, and your body needs it to make connective tissue and for healthy blood vessels, including those found in your eyes.
Oranges will do more than keep your eyes healthy because they also contain potassium, fiber, calcium, and folate.
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman
Strawberries are also packed with vitamin C, so they may help to protect your eyes from age-related diseases and keep the connective tissue and blood vessels around your eyes healthy.
Strawberries are also rich in folate (a B vitamin), fiber, and an array of phytochemicals.
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, beta-carotene, potassium, and fiber, just carrots, so they're also good for your eye health. The sweet flavor makes sweet potatoes a hit at mealtime, so it's easy to get all that good nutrition into your diet, even if you're a picky eater.
Serve baked sweet potatoes with olive oil, or a touch of a sweet glaze or top with baked beans, onions, cooked spinach or nuts.
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman
Oysters are good for your vision because they're very high in zinc, which was used in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study.
If you don't oysters, you can still get some zinc from nuts, beef, or pork, although oysters contain more zinc than any other food.
You'll find canned oysters on most grocery store shelves, and raw oysters are located in the fresh seafood department.
Eat raw, smoked or cooked oysters as an appetizer, or make oyster stew.
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman
Spinach is connected to eye health because it contains lutein, which is related to vitamin A.
Research shows that people who eat lutein-rich green leafy vegetables may have a decreased risk of macular degeneration.
Spinach also gives you iron, vitamin K, and folate, and is very low in calories.
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman
Walnuts are also rich in zinc and other minerals, plus several B-complex vitamins.
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman
Salmon is good for healthy eyes and normal vision because it contains significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acid—more than any other type of fish or seafood.
Studies suggest that people who have a higher intake of these fatty acids may be less ly to suffer from dry eyes.
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