The foods you eat have a tremendous effect on the way your body functions, even when the benefits may not appear obvious. Unlike the well-publicized links between the foods you eat and medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes, the connection between nutrition and eye health could get neglected until a condition arises. Age-related macular degeneration, cataracts1 and night blindness2 are 3 common medical conditions that may impact your eyes, particularly as you age.
But even though many eye-related health problems tend to creep up on you in your later years, eating eye-healthy foods is essential throughout the life cycle. Here are some foods that could, literally, help you look and feel better:
- Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and Swiss chard are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients which may reduce risks of chronic eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Egg yolks may also contain high levels of these nutrients. Lutein and zeaxanthin are also antioxidants, which help protect healthy eye cells.3 It can be difficult to fit in these foods every day, so a supplement may be necessary to meet your needs for zeaxanthin and lutein.
- Salmon is a potent source of omega 3 fatty acids, which help fight inflammation in the body, including the eyes. Fatty acids support retinal function and could also help prevent dry eyes.4
- Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency is associated with night blindness.5
- Citrus fruits and broccoli are packed with vitamin C, an antioxidant that fights free radicals in the body. Vitamin C may also reduce risks of developing cataracts.6
- Nuts and seeds contain vitamin E, another antioxidant that protects healthy eye cells by fighting off damage from free radicals.7
- Oysters are sources of zinc, a part of many essential enzymes for the eyes, including the antioxidant superoxide dismutase. A lack of zinc may increase chances of developing night blindness.8
Consistently including these foods in your diet may help ward off eye disease, especially those that occur with age. For a tasty eye-healthy meal, try a large salad made with dark leafy greens, carrots, mandarin oranges, and sliced nuts—and topped with a piece of grilled salmon.