Eye-friendly foods that may lower the risks of major eye conditions.
Nov 11, 2015
You've probably heard that eating carrots is good for your eyes. While it's true that eating carrots is good for your eyes, it's because they contain the eye disease fighting vitamin beta carotene. Carrots, however, aren't the only eye health–friendly foods available. Check out this list of foods that may help lower the risk factors associated with common eye diseases, including but not limited to dry eye, age–related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.1,2
Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard, mustard and turnip greens, are an excellent source of the antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthin. Several studies demonstrate that Lutein and Zeaxanthin, both carotenoids, filter the harmful rays of sunlight protecting and maintaining healthy cells in the eye,1, 2 including within the macula, the center of the retina.2, 13 Broccoli and peas are also great sources of the potent antioxidant duo of Lutein and Zeaxanthin.
Cold water fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines and anchovies are rich in omega–3 fatty acids. Two omega–3 fatty acids, Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are shown to promote and maintain healthy eyes.3,4Dry eye syndrome has been linked to DHA deficiency.3 Studies have shown that low levels of both DHA and EPA are associated with retinal eye diseases.
According to EUREYE, a study featured in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating fatty fish can also reduce the risk of developing age–related macular degeneration (AMD).7 If you don't eat seafood, taking fish oil supplements or vegetarian supplements that contain black currant seed oil or flaxseed oil, are other ways you can get a good supply of omega–3s.
Almonds, walnuts and pistachios can be converted into Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and vitamin E, which are powerful antioxidants. Studies show that vitamin E reduces the progression of age–related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataract development and is thought to protect the eye cells from damage caused by free radicals that disrupt healthy tissue.5
Strawberries, blueberries, black berries, acai berries, and cherries are great for lowering inflammation and blood pressure, a risk factor for macular degeneration. These fruit powerhouses also contain vitamin C, which has been shown to prolong the development of cataracts.6 Berries also contain plant compounds called polyphenolics that can help protect the brain and recycle the toxic debris which is linked to age–related macular degeneration (AMD).8 Look for other deep colored skin fruits and vegetables such as radishes, grapes, plums, bell peppers and beets to also receive these health benefits.
Avocados contain carotenoids, a group of A–vitamins that lead forces against free–radical damage, which can help with eyesight. The most important carotenoids found in avocados are beta–carotene, alpha–carotene and more importantly Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which helps prolong the development of macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts.1,2,7,9 This nutrition–packed food works as a powerful source of protection to the eyes from free radical damage. Avocados are also a great source of beta–carotene, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and vitamin E.2 New research from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) specifies that avocados are the highest fruit source of lutein among the top 20 most consumed fruits. This same study also showed that avocados have almost twice the amount of vitamin E as previously believed by researchers, again making this powerful food the highest source of this potent antioxidant.10
Orange Bell Peppers
Orange bell peppers are among the best food sources of Zeaxanthin, a carotenoid that helps lower the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. In addition to Zeaxanthin, they also have a lot of vitamin C â€“ more than any other food available – which is shown specifically to promote healthy cells throughout your body, including the eyes.2 Daily intake of vitamin C is important in maintaining eye health. Other orange–skinned options high in vitamin C are pumpkin, squash, carrots and sweet potatoes. These great food choices also contain the eye–friendly nutrients carotene and vitamin A.
As with your overall health, a diet low in fatty foods and sodium can also lower the risk factors that are associated major vision loss, such as diabetic retinopathy and age–related macular degeneration (AMD).11, 12 Talk to your doctor about the best diet for your health needs.