Smart Foods for Good Eye Health

Did you know that the very same diet recommended to protect your heart could also help enhance your eye health? It’s not a surprise at all since vision relies on the tiny capillaries that provide nutrients and oxygen to the retina and other parts of the eye. Keeping arteries and capillaries healthy are essential for optimal health. To protect eye health, here are the nutrients that should be included in your daily diet.

C, E, Beta Carotene, and Zinc
A study done on age-related eye diseases revealed that people who took supplements of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, and zinc are less prone to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The combination of these nutrients slowed down the progression of AMD, which is also the pre-cursor to age-related blindness. After these findings were published, supplements that combined these four nutrients are now prescribed to people diagnosed with early signs of AMD.

Sources of vitamin C include kiwi, orange, grapefruit, green pepper, tomato juice, cabbage, and cauliflower. Foods rich in vitamin E are fortified cereals, sunflower seeds, almonds, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, hazelnuts, turnip greens, tomato paste, pine nuts, and peanut butter. Beta carotene can be found in sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, cantaloupe, apricots, peaches, and mangoes. Zinc can be derived from oysters, beef shanks, crabs, pork tenderloin, lobster, cashews, yogurt, and raisin bran.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Another combination of nutrients that are said to lower the risk of eye diseases including macular degeneration and cataracts are lutein and zeaxanthin. A study done in Tufts University in 2008 published findings that out of the 1,802 women ages 50 to 79 years old, those who consumed these two compounds had 23 percent lower risk of cataracts than those who didn’t. Lutein and zeaxanthin can be derived from food sources such as kale, spinach, turnip greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and romaine lettuce.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Recently, another nutrient was added to the eye health nutritional powerhouse and it’s called omega 3 fatty acid. This fatty acid is found in large amounts in fish oil, particularly from cold water fish like tuna, salmon, herring and mackerel. At the John Hopkins University, a study was done in 2010 to probe how omega 3 fatty acids affected age-related macular degeneration. It has been found that those who consumed a diet rich in this nutrient had reduced risks of AMD. A similar study done at the Clinical University of Navarra in Spain found that omega 3 can also protect the eye from cataracts.

Although it’s not clear how omega 3 can protect against these diseases, experts believe that this nutrient works by reducing inflammation and preventing cell damage.

It’s true that as you grow older, eyesight is one of the first things to weaken. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you’d automatically go blind when you reach mid-age. But you’ll notice deterioration in your vision as the years pass. That’s why, it is imperative to protect your eye health from numerous diseases by adopting a healthy diet rich in the nutrients mentioned above.

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