Eating Healthier For The New Year? Consider Foods That Are Good For Your Eyes
- Posted on: Jan 16 2016
Many people make resolutions to eat healthier during the new year. They may not realize that some of these “healthy” food are also beneficial to eye health. Here is a run down of some nutrients that are good for your eyes, and what you can find them in.
Let’s start with well known beta-carotene. This converts to vitamin A, which helps prevent night blindness. It is true that carrots are good for the eyes. Other common sources include sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, kale, spinach, apricots, cantaloupe, romaine lettuce, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, tomato juice, orange, green, red and yellow bell peppers, corn and broccoli.
Next up on the list is zinc. This mineral protects against age-related vision loss, including macular degeneration (AMD). Zinc can be found in shellfish (notably oysters), beef, eggs, lamb and turkey. Plant sources of zinc are legumes (dried beans, garbanzos, black eyed peas, peanuts, soy products), whole grains, pumpkin seeds and nuts.
DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids also play a role in eye health. These essential fatty acids protect the eye from degenerative retinal disease, AMD and dry eye syndrome. Sources include salmon, sardines, herring, trout, halibut, tuna, mackerel, scallops and anchovies.
Vitamin C is found in many delicious fruits and vegetables, and it’s good for your eyes as well! It lowers the risk of developing cataracts. Also, in combination with beta-carotene, zinc and Vitamin E, Vitamin C slows the progression of AMD and visual acuity loss. Good sources of Vitamin C include citrus fruits and juices, apples, bananas, broccoli, leafy greens, green bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, spinach, tomatoes, strawberries and papayas.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and important for good eye health. Like Vitamin C, Vitamin E slows the progression of AMD and cataracts. Good sources of Vitamin E include wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, peanut butter, vegetable oils, avocados, spinach, whole grains and sweet potatoes.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Last but not least, lutein and zeaxanthin are two types of carotenoids which play a critical role in eye health. They reduce the risk of cataracts and AMD. They also act as antioxidants in the eye, protecting and maintaining healthy cells and filtering harmful blue light. There are hundreds carotenoids found in nature, however lutein and zeaxanthin are the only two deposited in high quantities in the retina (macula)of the eye. Lutein and zeaxanthin are typically found in the same food sources, and the good news is that there are many foods to choose from! Good sources include kale, collards, turnip greens, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, romaine lettuce, orange juice, tomato juice, carrots, grapefruit, sweet potatoes, bok choy, corn, papayas, okra, cantaloupe, peaches, oranges, tangerines, mangoes, squash, tomatoes, peas, snap beans and celery.
Many foods listed above are easy to work into any diet. So no matter what meal or snack of the day, consider eating some of the above to help keep your eyes as healthy as possible.
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