Dr. Allen Ho, a retinal surgeon and director of the clinical retina research unit at Wills Eye Hospital explains how carotenoids, found in fruits and vegetables, act as powerful antioxidants. And these antioxidants help to combat free radicals that damage your body and cause aging.
So yes, it really does matter what you eat. Certain foods contain potent antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can nourish your eyes and keep them healthy. And the good news is that foods that are great for eye health are also good for your overall health.
Below is a list of five nutritious foods that are great for your eyes. They include fruits and vegetables, fish and nuts which contain certain vitamins and minerals that give your eyes a healthy boost.
- Leafy Greens. Spinach, lettuce, kale, mustard greens, and Swiss chard are all high in fiber, folic acid, and iron which are great for eye health. They are also high in antioxidants, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin, which are both found in the macula. These work like a partial form of sunblock in your eyes and protect the retina from damaging light.
- Orange vegetables. Carrots, orange bell peppers, and sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene, which the body breaks down into vitamin A. Along with other vitamins and nutrients, beta-carotene has been proven to slow the progress of age-related macular degeneration.
- Black currants, cherries, and dark berries. Did you know that dark fruits are considered superfoods? They are also good for your eyes because of anthocyanins, flavonoids that protect the retina from oxidative stress and may also reduce diabetic cataracts. Black currants are usually found dried or freeze-dried, which can be added to your favorite granola or smoothie.
- Wild-caught fish. Fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, anchovies, sturgeon, and mackerel are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids contain one of the building blocks in the retina. Half of the body’s photoreceptors, rods, and cones are composed omega-3 fatty acids. It is important to eat wild-caught fish because farm-raised fish contain higher levels of contaminants.
- Almonds, seeds, wheat germ, and pistachios. These nuts are high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that has been proven to decrease the progression of age-related macular degeneration and the formation of cataracts. The fats found in nuts also help to enhance the absorption of carotenoids found in vegetables.
We have listed only five foods, but there are so many foods that are great for your eye health. A good rule of thumb is to eat a variety of colors every day. “Different colors of fruits and vegetables have different nutrients,” states Dr. Ho. Be sure to consume a variety of foods rich in nutrients, minerals, and micronutrients to maintain good eye health.
Is it time for your annual eye exam? Having your annual eye checkup will contribute to your eye health.