Eat These Foods for Healthy Eyes
A provides essential nutrients that help keep your eyes healthy. For example, it's well-known that vitamin A is essential for vision, and a deficiency can result in a disorder called night-blindness.
Findings from the "Age-Related Eye Disease Study"—a major clinical trial sponsored by the National Eye Institute, also indicate vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and lutein may help reduce the risk of advanced , a leading cause of blindness in the elderly.
Additional studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may help protect eyes from retinal degeneration and ease the discomfort of dry eyes.
Of course, it's important to point out that researchers used large amounts of nutrients in these studies—similar to what you may find in specially formulated dietary supplements. The following foods are high in one or more of these eye-protecting nutrients.
Take carrots, for example. Carrots provide vitamin A, and its precursor, beta-carotene. Vitamin A is essential for vision because it's needed to form rhodopsin, which is a protein that absorbs light in the retina. Vitamin A is also necessary for normal function of the cornea and membranes that surround your eyes.
Carrots are also rich in potassium and fiber while being low in calories and almost fat-free. Serve carrot sticks with a low-calorie veggie dip, top a salad with chopped carrots, or serve cooked carrots as a healthy side dish.
Oranges are good for your vision because they're an excellent source of vitamin C, which was used in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, and your body needs it to make connective tissue and for healthy blood vessels, including those found in your eyes.
Oranges will do more than keep your eyes healthy because they also contain potassium, fiber, calcium, and folate. An orange makes an excellent grab-and-go snack, or you can enjoy a tall glass of orange juice any time of the day.
Strawberries are also packed with vitamin C, so they may help to protect your eyes from age-related diseases and keep the connective tissue and blood vessels around your eyes healthy.
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, beta-carotene, potassium, and fiber, just like carrots, so they're also good for your eye health. The sweet flavor makes sweet potatoes a hit at mealtime, so it's easy to get all that good nutrition into your diet, even if you're a picky eater.
Serve baked sweet potatoes with olive oil, or a touch of a sweet glaze or top with baked beans, onions, cooked spinach or nuts. Take a break from regular French fries and make sweet potato fries instead, with a little bit of molasses drizzled on the top. Or try sweet potato casserole. Yum!
Oysters are good for your vision because they're very high in zinc, which was used in the "Age-Related Eye Disease Study." If you don't like oysters, you can still get some zinc from nuts, beef, or pork, although oysters contain more zinc than any other food.
You'll find canned oysters on most grocery store shelves, and raw oysters are located in the fresh seafood department. Eat raw, smoked or cooked oysters as an appetizer, or make oyster stew.
Spinach is connected to eye health because it contains lutein, which is related to vitamin A. Research shows that people who eat lutein-rich green leafy vegetables may have a decreased risk of macular degeneration.
Walnuts are good for your eyes because they contain vitamin E, which was used in the "Age-Related Eye Disease Study," and a significant amount of alpha-linolenic acid, which is the plant version of omega-3 fatty acid.
Walnuts are also rich in zinc and other minerals, plus several B-complex vitamins. Eat raw nuts with a piece of fresh fruit as a healthy snack or toast chopped walnuts and add them to a salad or cooked green vegetables.
Salmon is good for healthy eyes and normal vision because it contains significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acid—more than any other type of fish or seafood. Studies suggest that people who have a higher intake of these fatty acids may be less likely to suffer from dry eyes.
Serve baked salmon for dinner or use salmon chunks in salads and salmon patties. Salmon can also be served raw (like sushi or sashimi), or smoked with crackers.
- American Optometric Association. "Essential Fatty Acids Omega-3 DHA and EPA.
National Institutes of Health National Eye Institute. "Age-Related Eye Disease Study-Results."
National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. "Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin A and Carotenoids."
Tan JS, Wang JJ, Flood V, Rochtchina E, Smith W, Mitchell P. "Dietary antioxidants and the long-term incidence of age-related macular degeneration: the Blue Mountains Eye Study." Ophthalmology. 2008 Feb;115(2):334-41.
Video: Mayo Clinic Minute: 3 tips for healthy eyes
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