Best Nutrients for Healthy Eyes and What You Need to Eat
Want great eye health? Pay attention to what you’re eating. What you put onto your plate and into your mouth helps your eyes just as much as it can help other parts of your body. Making sure you’re eating a healthy, well-rounded diet rich in specific antioxidants and nutrients will keep your eyes healthy and can even slow vision loss or reduce the risk of eye disease.
Here’s the best nutrients to help in protecting eye health and the top foods you want to be eating to make them a part of your daily diet—for both carnivores and plant-eaters alike.
Vitamin C- Vitamin C promotes healthy capillaries and supports the health of blood vessels in the eye. It has also been linked to a decreased risk of developing cataracts, and macular degeneration.
Foods with high levels of Vitamin C
- Fruit: Acerola cherries, cantaloupe, guava, black currants, citrus fruits (orange, grapefruit), pineapple, berries, watermelon, kiwi, papaya, mango. lemon
- Veggies: Chili peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sweet yellow peppers, cauliflower, white potatoes, tomatoes, squash, mustard spinach, kale
- Other: Thyme, parsley
Beta-Carotene + Vitamin A– Beta-Carotene is converted into vitamin A once it enters the body. This vitamin helps to protect the surface of the eye (cornea). It is also a part of rhodopsin which is a protein that allows you to see in low light conditions. The risk of developing vision loss is also greatly reduced by this vitamin, especially when in combination with other antioxidant vitamins.
Foods with high levels of Beta-Carotene + Vitamin A
- Fruit: Mango, cantaloupe, grapefruit, watermelon, papaya, apricot
- Veggies: Red pepper, swiss chard, romaine lettuce or spinach, carrots, kale, collard greens, sweet potato, winter squash
- Other: Beef liver, lamb liver, liver sausage, cod liver oil, king mackerel
Vitamin E – Vitamin E has been shown to protect the cells of the eyes from free radicals, which can break down healthy eye tissue and cause damage. Studies also suggest that this vitamin is helpful in preventing age-related cataracts.
Foods with high levels of Vitamin E
- Fruit: Avocado, mango, kiwi, blackberries, black currants, cranberries (dried). Olives, apricots, raspberries
- Veggies: Red pepper, turnip and beet greens, butternut squash, broccoli, asparagus, swiss chard, spinach and collard greens
- Other: Wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds and oil, almonds and almond oil, hazelnut oil, pine nuts, goose meat, peanuts, salmon
Zinc – This mineral carries vitamin A from the liver to the retinas where its used to create melanin, a protective pigment. Having a sufficient zinc level has been shown to protect against night blindness and macular degeneration.
Foods with high levels of Zinc
- Fruit: Avocados, pomegranates, blackberries, raspberries, guavas, apricots, peaches, kiwi, blueberries, cantaloupe
- Veggies: Shiitake mushrooms, spinach, green peas, lentil sprouts, lima beans, asparagus, beet greens, broccoli, okra, sweet corn
- Other: Oysters, beef, crab and lobster, fortified breakfast cereal, pork chop, cashews, chickpeas,
Carotenoids – Carotenoids (specifically zeaxanthin and lutein), help to protect the eye’s macula where the highest concentration of photoreceptors can be found. They form a pigment which protects the macula, as well as produce antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which help filter out blue light. Digital eye strain, anyone?
Foods with high levels of Carotenoids (zeaxanthin and lutein)
- Fruit: Honeydew melon, kiwi, grapes, avocados, papaya
- Veggies: Kale, corn, spinach, turnip and collard greens, leek, pea, sweet bell peppers
- Other: Egg yolk, Freekeh (ancient grain), basil, parsley, pistachios, orange juice, Durum wheat
Omega-3 – These fatty acids are essential for optimal retina performance. It’s said that dry eyes can be attributed to a lack of omega-3s. These fatty acids also reduce the risk of high eye pressure, and of developing glaucoma and macular degeneration.
Foods with high levels of Omega-3
- Fruit: Berries, guava, cantaloupe, lemon, mango
- Veggies: Spinach, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, broccoli
- Other: Mackerel, salmon, cod liver oil, herring, oysters, sardines, anchovies, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, edamame
Now that you’re aware of how these nutrients help to protect your eye health, start incorporating them into your meals. And, if the produce section is blurry when you’re shopping, feel free to give us a call.