Last Updated on May 16, 2023 by amy
Maintaining eye health should be a priority for people of all ages – not just those who have begun to experience vision loss. The sooner you begin to care for your eye health, the better chances you have at avoiding conditions that can affect your vision later in life.
Everyone knows that carrots are the go-to food for your eye health. But what if you are not a carrot lover? What other options are out there to improve your eye health? Here are five alternative options for you.
Option 1: Leafy Greens
Salads should already be a staple in your diet, no matter what ingredients you throw into them. Leafy greens are incredibly beneficial to your eye health, as they contain both lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that lower the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
According to the American Optometric Association, AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over 50. The name of this disease that affects eye health stems from the area of the eye that is affected: the macula. The macula is the oval-shaped area near the center of the retina. When that area degenerates, people experience a gradual loss of vision. If you have already been diagnosed with AMD, studies have shown that consuming foods with carotenoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin can slow the progression of the disease.
Cataracts are a condition where the eye forms clouding in the lens and is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Lutein and zeaxanthin counteract the condition by offsetting the unstable molecules that cause the clouding. The higher the intake of these antioxidants, the better your chances are of improving eye health.
You might notice that your eye health will improve significantly by consuming leafy greens. Lutein and zeaxanthin protect the eyes from harmful high-energy light waves, such as UV rays from the sun. Our bodies cannot produce these antioxidants independently, so we need supplemental nutrients to maintain our eye health. Examples of leafy greens include lettuce, kale, spinach, and broccoli.
Option 2: Eggs
What comes to mind when you think of incorporating eggs into your diet? The high amount of protein that you will be consuming? The vitamins and minerals that are in them? While these are all valid assumptions, eye health is another significant benefit of eating eggs.
Like leafy greens, eggs also contain the important antioxidants of lutein and zeaxanthin. These are both found specifically in egg yolk. What an easy way to help your eye health! Crack some eggs in a pan and cook yourself to some eggs sunny side up. Try hardboiled or scrambled if that is not your favorite way to eat eggs. No matter what, you will consume endless amounts of vitamins and nutrients that are extremely beneficial to your eye health.
According to Today’s Dietitian, one doctor stated, “The retina has the highest rate of metabolism in the body, which means you need to resupply it with nutrients regularly.” Without doing so, you risk serious impediments to your eye health, such as eye stress and vision loss.
Eating just one egg per day, no matter how it is cooked, increases the levels of both of these carotenoids in your bloodstream, significantly impacting your eye health. For those wary of eating eggs for fear of high cholesterol, eating one egg does not change LDL and HDL levels, according to the Journal of Nutrition.
The best part about incorporating eggs into your diet is that it can be for any meal of the day, not just breakfast. Whether it’s omelets, quiches, huevos rancheros, or an egg salad, the options are endless and allow you to eat eggs however you are most comfortable. Ultimately, it is about what is best for your eye health.
Option 3: Citrus Fruits & Berries
While citrus fruits and berries are delicious already, the added bonus is that they are great for any person’s eye health. Laden with Vitamin C and bioflavonoids, these fruits provide excellent health benefits.
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. It is not only good for skin and bones, but it also aids in protecting blood vessels, especially retinal capillaries. It is responsible for forming connective tissue in the body, like the cornea’s collagen, which is important for maintaining healthy cartilage. It is among the most important antioxidants for preserving eye health.
Complementary to Vitamin C are bioflavonoids, also found in citrus fruits and berries. They are the pigments that give these fruits their colors. There are subcategories of bioflavonoids, each with its own benefits. One of which is rutin which can prevent bleeding abnormalities. The main source of bioflavonoids beneficial to eye health is bilberry, a fruit very similar to blueberries. It contains high levels of anthocyanins, antioxidants that reduce the risk of cataracts, AMD, inflammatory eye disease, and retinopathy. Anthocyanins also maintain the health of the eye’s cornea and blood vessels.
Option 4: Almonds
Almonds are one of the healthiest foods that you can eat. They are rich in numerous antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Almonds are extremely important for eye health. They are a natural source of Vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects cell membranes. Studies suggest that Vitamin E-rich foods, like almonds, can significantly reduce the chances of developing cataracts and AMD.
Almonds also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for eye health. Daily consumption of these acids improves eyesight, reduces the risk of eye pressure, and prevents glaucoma. The acids also affect the overall well-being of an individual by regulating sugar levels, blood pressure, immune system, and muscle mass. The high levels of antioxidants make it possible for damaged cells in the eyes to be easily repaired, a useful aid in eye health.
Almonds are a rich zinc source, another nutrient vital for eye health. Zinc creates melanin, a pigment that protects the eye. Studies suggest that a higher zinc intake improves vision during the night. A lack of zinc can increase susceptibility to infections, so consuming it in any way is important.
Almonds are another food good for eye health that can be incorporated into many meals, including smoothies, salads, oatmeal, and more. Like eggs, it is not limited to just one meal of the day and can even be consumed individually as a snack.
Option 5: Fatty Fish
Fatty fish are another food laden with omega-3 fatty acids, which are extremely beneficial for eye health. These fatty acids are essential to our diets since our bodies cannot produce them independently.
Specific omega-3 fatty acids include docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). As mentioned, it is never too early to maintain eye health. With DHA, found in formulas, the visual development of infants is stimulated. DHA can also help in this development for pregnant women as they carry their child to term.
As for adults, there are even more benefits to eye health. Omega-3 fatty acids protect the eyes from AMD and dry eye syndrome. Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition that results in insufficient lubrication and moisture on the eye’s surface and can cause inflammation and scarring. The acids also decrease the risk of high eye pressure and glaucoma and help to properly drain intraocular fluid from the eye, which relieves pressure.
Examples of fatty fish include salmon, tuna, trout, herring, sardines, and mackerel. If you do not deep-fry them, these fish are extremely beneficial for eye health. These fish can be grilled, baked, used in a salad, and more. They can even be combined with other foods listed for eye health, giving you an all-around healthy meal.
These are just five foods out there that can help anyone with their eye health, but there are much more out there. The point is to stay healthy in even the simplest of ways by eating the right foods. Our eyes are essential to our everyday lives. How else can we enjoy watching a beautiful sunset, looking into our lover’s eyes, or sporting a cute new pair of glasses? Eye health should be prioritized high up, and it is never too early to start. You don’t want to wait until you are 60 years old, suffering from cataracts and losing vision from AMD, to realize that it could have all been prevented if you had only eaten well when you were younger.