If you’re like most Americans, you know that carrots are great for your eyesight. But did you know there are a host of other nutrient-rich foods that contribute to healthy eyes and sharp vision?
In this article, we’ll go over which foods you should include in your diet if you want to keep your eyes in great shape, as well as the roles each one plays in your eye health. But first, we’ll explain why a healthy diet works wonders for more than just your waistline.
Why Nutrition Is Vital to Eye Health
Much like proteins help you build muscle and fruits and vegetables contribute to a healthy heart, your diet can make or break your vision. In fact, the foods you eat play an integral role in how your eyes age and fight disease.
Because the eyes are vascular organs, they rely on blood vessels to deliver vital vitamins and nutrients. If your blood vessels are in poor shape, your eyes will be the first to suffer.
7 Nutrient-Rich Foods to Boost Your Eye Health
In order to keep your blood vessels, and therefore your eyes, in great shape, you’ll need to craft a diet that is low in trans and saturated fats and high in antioxidants. Here are a few foods that’ll help you do just that.
Lean, cold-water fish are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Not only do these fatty acids help protect blood vessels, but they also combat macular degeneration, dry eye, and cataracts.
Excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:
If you don’t eat fish, you should supplement your diet with flaxseed oil or black currant seed oil, both of which are rich in omega-3s.
- Dark Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are packed with lutein and zeaxanthin, plant pigments that stop macular degeneration in its tracks. Furthermore, dark leafy greens contain large amounts of antioxidants like vitamin C and betacarotene, which act as a natural sunscreen, preventing dry eye.
Include one or more of the following leafy greens in your next salad:
- Collard greens
- Swiss chard
- Brussels sprouts
Avocados, broccoli, and peas are also great sources of lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene.
- Whole Grains
Whole grains are low on the glycemic index. Studies have shown foods with low glycemic indexes contribute to a lower risk of age-related eye disease. Whole grains also contain zinc, niacin, and vitamin E, all of which bolster overall eye health and strength.
Whole grains you can add to your diet today include:
- Brown rice
- Whole oats
- Whole wheat pastas and breads
Next time you’re at the store, swap out refined grains and carbohydrates for these options to give your eyes an extra boost.
- Colorful Vegetables
There’s a reason your doctor wants you to eat more vegetables-they are the best sources of vitamins A, C, and E you can find. Many vegetables also contain carotenoids-compounds that give vegetables their vibrant colors-that help fight a number of age-related eye diseases. Furthermore, many vegetables are rich in fiber and beta-carotene, further bolstering eye health.
Consider adding the following to your next stir-fry, soup, or salad:
- Bell peppers
- Sweet potatoes
Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with any vegetables you add to your diet, so just make sure you’re eating four to five servings of veggies every day.
- Berries and Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruit and berries are loaded with-you guessed it-vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital to eye health because it reduces the risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye diseases.
And on top of that, berries and citrus fruits are also excellent sources of antioxidants, which help fend off glaucoma and cancer.
Try to add several cups of the following to your daily diet:
Whether you eat fruits and berries by themselves or add them to your morning yogurt, aim to eat four to five servings of fruit each day.
Not only do eggs contain lutein and zeaxanthin, but they’re also rich in vitamin A and lean protein. The protein and vitamin A in eggs help strengthen the muscles around your eyes, preventing eye strain and even blindness.
Add one to two eggs per day to your diet to reap these benefits.
If you don’t like fish and don’t want to take diet supplements, you’re in luck. Not only are nuts rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but they also contain vitamin E, which slows macular degeneration. Vitamin E also protects the eye against free radicals and cataracts.
Feel free to stock up on any of the following when you want to give your eyes an extra boost:
The great thing about nuts is that each variety is a great source of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. No matter which variety you prefer, you can’t go wrong!
Now that you know which foods to stock up on next time you’re at the grocery store, take a look at our other blog posts to take your eye care routine a step further.