Your eyes are extremely complex organs that require maintenance from you in order to keep your vision as clear and crisp as possible.
Your eyes are extremely complex organs that require maintenance from you in order to keep your vision as clear and crisp as possible. While your body has developed tools to stave off disease and repair a remarkable amount of damage, it needs the right building blocks to do so. And what you eat is also essential to the health of your eyes. If you’re lacking in necessary nutrients, your body won’t be able to counteract the wear and tear of everyday life. Down the road, that could translate into vision problems or even loss of sight. Here are some nutrients you can add to your diet to help keep your eyes healthy:
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
These essential nutrients are found in leafy, green vegetables like kale or collards. Lutein and zeaxanthin help shield your eyes from harmful UVA rays from sunlight and have been found to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in America. These nutrients need fat to be absorbed, so be sure to drizzle on some olive oil before chowing down.
Vitamins C and E
The sun’s rays can cause damage to the eyes. Vitamins C and E act as antioxidants by helping to absorb some of the damaging molecules generated by the sun’s radiation; helping to stave off diseases like AMD and cataracts. Oranges tend to hog the vitamin C glory, but red peppers have more than three times as much vitamin C, and broccoli has about 30% more. Nuts, sweet potatoes, leafy green vegetables and certain oils, like sunflower, wheat germ and olive oil are all high in vitamin E.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
You’ve heard how these health-boosting fats benefit many other organs in your body, but it turns out the eyes benefit from omega-3 fatty acids too. DHA and EPA are two forms that have been shown to aid in healthy function and development of various parts of the eye. Good sources include fish like salmon, sardines, and herring. DHA can also be found in seaweed and nuts like flaxseeds or walnuts. Vegetable oil is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Zinc plays two roles in the eyes. First, it helps protect the eyes by shuttling vitamin A from the liver to the retina to produce melanin. It’s also concentrated around the retina and in the vascular tissue surrounding the eyes. Oysters are by far the best source of zinc, but red meat is another good option. Beans like baked beans, kidney beans and chickpeas are also a great way to get your daily dose of zinc.
Vitamin A is vitamin most commonly associated with carrots and is important for eye maintenance and to prevent night blindness. Vitamin A is essential for healthy, functioning eyes, but the good news is that most of us have enough to keep our eyes healthy without needing to gorge on carrots. Only in those who are very sick, malnourished, or frail do we see night blindness from vitamin A deficiency. The key to keeping your eyes healthy is maintaining a balanced diet that contains a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables while also getting a good helping of fish, nuts, beans, and vegetable oils. Eating these foods regularly will help stave off eye disease and keep you vision sharp for many years to come.
(Doctor. Oz TV show)