It’s easy to draw connections between the foods you eat and your weight, energy levels, and mood. However, your meals also have an impact on other, more surprising parts of the body too…like your eyes!
Studies have shown that diets containing too much sugar, fat, and processed foods can lead to chronic eye diseases that are prolonged and painful. Perhaps you’ve been told since childhood that carrots are good for eyesight, but there are many other vitamins and nutrients essential for good vision and eye health too.
Vitamin A helps keep the immune system strong, promotes healthy skin, and keeps the eyes moist and producing tears. It’s also an essential vitamin for retina health. Sweet potatoes and spinach are good food sources of vitamin A.
Your eye’s lens naturally contains vitamin C, which has been linked to preventing cataracts in older age. Vitamin C helps form collagen and connective tissues in the eye, maintaining a balance of structural proteins. Some of the best food sources of vitamin C are red and green peppers, oranges, and cantaloupe.
The best natural source of vitamin D is the sun, but that doesn’t mean that you should ditch your UV-ray protecting sunglasses! In addition to maintaining strong bones and regulating calcium in the body, vitamin D deficiencies can lead to cataracts, pink eye, and maybe even nearsightedness. Salmon, mackerel, and vitamin D-fortified milk are great sources of vitamin D.
Vitamin E is contained in the eye’s lens and retina, and it also is a natural antioxidant defense system in the body. Significant deficiencies in vitamin C can lead to macular degeneration and cataracts. Snacking on sunflower seeds and hazelnuts is a delicious way to get more vitamin E in your diet.
Essential Fatty Acids
Contrary to what you may think, fats are an essential and healthy part of human diet. However, not all fats are created equal, and only some types of fats are helpful in maintaining eye health. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have shown to promote visual development and retinal function in medical studies. According to studies conducted by the National Eye Institute about age-related eye issues, omega-3 seems to be most beneficial for dry eye conditions. Cold water fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, and fish oil supplements contain essential fatty acids.
Coupled with vitamin A, zinc can help reduce the risk of night blindness. Some delicious ways to get more zinc in your meals is by eating oysters, beef, and turkey. This trace mineral helps the retina produce melanin, which is a protective pigment in the eyes.
Luetin & Zeaxanthin
Although you might not be as familiar with luetin and zeaxanthin as the other vitamins mentioned here, they also play an important role in eye health. These nutrients are commonly found in green leafy vegetables and eggs, and they show promise in preventing cataracts and macular degeneration.
Aside from the obvious choice of carrots, these are some of the other natural foods that can help protect those beautiful peepers:
- Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale
- Brussels sprouts
- Almonds and pecans
- Cold water fatty fish