When we think of foods that improve eyesight, the first thing that pops into our mind is a carrot. These usually orange root vegetables are rich in Vitamin A, beta carotene and rhodopsin, which benefit eye health, and are essential for night and color vision. These elements may also protect the eyes from age-related problems such as macular degeneration - the leading cause of vision loss2 - and cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens that causes bothersome vision problems3.
However, there are many things, including but not limited to carrots, that are good for your eyes. Here’s a list of other foods that could help you see better.
Spinach, rhubarb, broccoli, collard greens, watercress, kale, parsley and arugula, among others, are vegetables rich in zeaxanthin and lutein. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that protect the eye’s retina from harmful UV light5 (that sun you love so much).
Egg yolks contain small amounts of lutein as well, because it’s a key nutrient in corn, which is which hens eat a lot of, hence why it’s found in egg yolks. Ah, the circle of life! However, the lutein in eggs is well absorbed by the body, so we don’t retain a lot of it.
Other foods that are high in zeaxanthin and lutein are colorful fruits6, which also provide the body with vitamin C. These include, berries (blue, black, straw), avocados, oranges, cantaloupe, kiwi, mangoes, and papayas, among others.
In moderation, lean beef and poultry can boost your eye health. Beef is rich in vitamin A and zinc, which helps the retina, cornea, and other eye tissues to function properly11, and lowers the risk of macular degeneration.
Poultry has a significant amount of zinc, and according to the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, those who are at high risk of age-related macular degeneration could slow the progression by about 25% and visual acuity loss by 19%t by taking 40-80 mg/day of zinc12.
Note: high doses of zinc may be harmful to the body. There is such thing as too much of a good thing!
Adding a glass of red wine to your diet not only relaxes you after a stressful day, but could also help you live longer and prevent or slow down macular degeneration. This is because wine contains quercetin, a strong antioxidant.
Similarly, a mug of green or black tea can help with stress too. But that’s not all: it can help strengthen the capillaries in the eye, allowing for better blood flow, which will increase the nutrients that reach the eyes and helps prevent high eye pressure13 (a precursor to glaucoma).
Overall, for the health of your eyes and your whole body, avoid processed foods and those that are prepared with margarine and vegetable oils such as fried foods, commercially-prepared cookies and cakes, and crackers. Sweetened drinks, full of added sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, are also not great for you or your eyes14. Essentially, if you already keep a healthy diet, you’re doing your eyes a favor without even realizing it!
For eye-healthy recipes, check out All About Vision's "Recipes for Healthy Eyes, Created by Optometrists."
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