It is not a big secret at all that a balanced and nutritious diet is the gateway to good health. This applies to your eyes as well. Taking real good care of your eyes is more than just practising proper visual hygiene. You also need to eat foods that are good for your eyes. Proper nutrients intake helps in reducing the risks of developing eye diseases that are detrimental for your vision. After all, when you eat right, you can see right. The following are foods that are beneficial for your eyes:
Colourful Fruits & Vegetables
Do you remember how your mother would often say, ‘carrots are good for your eyes’ but we would often dismiss such old adage as ‘outdated’ or simply ‘nonsensical’? Well it turns out, this particular old adage is not ‘outdated’ nor ‘nonsensical’ after all.
Carrot is rich in both Vitamin A and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a precursor of Vitamin A. When you consume foods that are rich in beta-carotene, your body will turn it into Vitamin A and this particular vitamin is vital for your eyes.
As an antioxidant, beta-carotene helps in protecting the body cells from damage by fighting off free-radicals which in return, lowering the risk of developing chronic illness.
Vitamin A helps in reducing the risk of developing dry eyes by regulating and maintaining the moisture of your eyes. It also act as a precursor for rhodopsin. Rhodopsin is a photopigment in your eyes that allows you to see during night time. In short, rhodopsin is important for your eyes to be able to adapt in the dark.
Beta-carotene gives fruits and vegetables their vibrant yellow, orange and red colour. Hence, any fruit and vegetable that is yellow/orange/red in colour contains beta-carotene. That being said, if you are not a fan of carrots, here are your alternatives:
- Sweet potato (excellent source of beta-carotene and Vitamin A)
- Bell pepper (especially the yellow, orange and red peppers. Sweet red and green bell peppers are rich in Vitamin C too!)
However, don’t just limit yourself to eating yellow/orange/red-coloured fruits and vegetables. Diversify your diet by eating a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables as they contain not just beta-carotene, but also other important nutrients.
Kale, Spinach, Broccoli, & Dark Leafy Green Vegetables
There is a reason why mothers always nag at us to ‘eat your vegetables,’ when we were kids (even today) and ended up scolding us when we stubbornly refused.
Dark leafy green vegetables do more than just keeping us strong and healthy. They are in fact, good for the eyes too! These green leafy goodness are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. They are both powerful antioxidants that are widely believed by scientists to be able to assist in protecting the macula. Macula is the central area on your retina that is responsible for good vision. By protecting the macula, the risk of developing Age-Related Macular Degeneration (an eye disease that causes irreversible blindness, commonly affecting the elderly) can be reduced.
On top of that, it is also believed that consuming dark leafy green vegetables on a daily basis also helps in reducing the risk of developing cataract as they are rich in these antioxidants along with Vitamin A, C, and E.
Orange and Citrus Fruits
Packed with Vitamin C, scientists believe that consuming enough oranges and citrus fruits helps in reducing the risks of developing cataract. As a powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C boosts your immune system and is also capable of fighting against free-radicals that can damage body cells. On top of that, studies also suggested that long-term consumption of adequate Vitamin C helps in reducing loss of vision in Age-Related Macular Degeneration patients.
To fully utilise the Vitamin C within oranges, eat them fresh or simply drink freshly-squeezed orange juice and you are good to go.
Besides orange and citrus fruits, Vitamin C can also be found in other fruits:
Eating them fresh is the best way to obtain the Vitamin C.
Just like colourful fruits, vegetables, and dark leafy greens, it is best for you to diversify your fruit intake to obtain all the available vitamins. Never limit yourself when it comes to fruits and vegetables.
So, start cutting up some fruits every day for yourself. If they were usually being served to you after dinner, pop some of them into your mouth to get your daily dose of vitamins and beta-carotene!
Seeds & Nuts
Seeds and nuts are packed with Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant which is essential in fighting off free-radicals that are capable of damaging your body cells. This can help in delaying the worsening of Age-Related Macular Degeneration, should you happen to develop one.
Sunflower seeds and almond are very good sources of Vitamin E. However, almonds have pretty high calorie content, so be very careful not to eat them excessively.
You can, however obtain Vitamin E through other foods such as:
- Cashew Nuts
Fishes, especially cold water fish are brimming with Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
We often perceive that the word, ‘fat’ as something negative. In fact, not all fats are bad for you. Your body needs the ‘good fats’ in order to function properly. This is the case for Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
Research had suggested that Omega-3 Fatty Acids is able to protect the eyes from developing dry eye syndrome. It is also essential in protecting the retina and reducing the risk of developing Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Some researchers even suggested that Omega-3 Fatty Acids can help in treating dry eyes.
Salmon is one of the best sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
Other than that, the following fishes are also loaded with Omega-3 Fatty Acids as well:
Speaking of eggs, the yolks are literally the sunshine. It is loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin. Besides, eggs contain zinc, which helps your body to absorb Vitamin A by acting as a ‘helper’ in bringing Vitamin A from the liver to the retina. Several studies also suggested that zinc can help in delaying the progression of vision loss should you develop one.
Lean Meat and Seafood
Lean meat such as beef is packed with zinc. Pork, lamb, and chicken breast can be good sources too, though their zinc contents are not as high as beef.
For seafood lovers; oyster is a good source of zinc along with other shellfish.
If you are a vegan, tofu and lentils are your go-to sources of zinc.
Medical technology has progressed over the years to the point that many previously incurable eye diseases are now curable. Why spend so much on medical bills for your eyes when you can prevent it in the first place by simply eating right? If you think about it, medical bill hurts your bank account more than spending on healthy food. Start your healthy eating journey for a more prosperous life. Your eyes will thank you for your healthy eating habits and grant you good eyesight in return.
John G. Lawrenson, Laura E. Downie: Nutrition and Eye Health. Nutrients. 2019; 11: pp. 9
Helen M. Rasmussen, Elizabeth J. Johnson: Nutrients for the aging eye. 2013; 8: pp. 741-748
Silvio Buscemi, Davide Corleo, Francesco Di Pace, Maria Letizia Petroni, Angela Satriano, Giulio Marchesini: The Effect of Lutein on Eye and Extra-Eye Health. Nutrients. 2018; 10: pp. 1321
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