Everyone knows that eating clean, non-processed, and all-around healthy foods is a great start towards leading a robust life. But did you know that your eating habits also affect your eye health? Studies now show the distinct correlation between proper nutrition and vision. Our bodies use organic pigments called carotenoids, the group of nutrients that makes many fruits and vegetables naturally orange, red, or yellow, for healthy vision and, in fact, protect our eyes from damaging UV light. But what foods contain these pigments in order to better your vision? Below is a list of healthy, clean foods which can help keep your eyes as healthy as possible.
As the name “carotenoids” implies, carrots should be your first guess as to which foods contain it! No old wives tale here, eating carrots definitely helps your eyesight — especially your night vision. Carrots contain high amounts of beta-carotene, which your body is transforms into vitamin A. Beta-carotene has been proven to help people’s eyes adjust to darkness. Just don’t forget that other orange coloured fruits and veggies like sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, mangos, and apricots — also contain high doses of beta-carotene as well! For example, one sweet potato/yam has more than half the vitamin C you need in a day, plus a little vitamin E as well!
Red Bell Peppers
Raw bell peppers give you the most vitamin C per calorie, plus they contain vitamins A and E. These vitamins are good for the blood vessels in your eyes and can lower your risk of getting cataracts. Peppers also contain lutein, which scientists believe insulates the delicate retina from light-induced oxidation damage and may be responsible for reversing macular degeneration in very early stages.
Chicken, Pork & Lean Beef
While oysters have more zinc per serving than any other food, it’s important to keep lean meat in your diet, including chicken, pork and lean beef. Your body needs zinc to transfer the vitamin A from your liver up to your retina where it is used to create the pigment melanin. Besides being responsible for the color of your eyes, melanin protects your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.
Egg yolks are a primary source of lutein and zeaxanthin and the zinc in the egg helps your body use them, to reduce your macular degeneration risk. These compounds block harmful blue light from damaging your retina. Plus, they help boost the amount of protective pigment in the macula, the part of your eye that controls central vision.
Almonds & Sunflower Seeds
A handful of Almonds or Sunflower Seeds can give you about half of your daily dose of vitamin E, which slows macular degeneration, research has shown. Vitamin E may also help prevent cataracts. Nuts also contain zinc and selenium, another antioxidant. Hazelnuts, peanuts, and peanut butter are also good sources of vitamin E.
Salmon, Tuna & Seafood
Tuna, salmon, mackerel, anchovies, and trout are rich in DHA, a fatty acid found in your retina. DHA is one of the two types of omega-3 fatty acids that you can find in these fish as well as other seafood. Low levels of DHA have been linked to dry eye syndrome. Omega-3s also seem to protect your eyes from age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.
Dark, Leafy Greens
Foods like kale, spinach, and collard greens are rich in beta-carotene, and both vitamins C and E. Preliminary data shows that vitamin C can help slow cataract progression once the lenses of the eyes have become cloudy. They are also packed with lutein and zeaxanthin—antioxidants that, studies show, lower your risk of long-term eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.