From cell phones to computers, our world is full of glowing screens. So you might be concerned about your eye health. Plus, it’s common for eyes to get worse with age. To improve your eyesight, include these 20 foods in your diet.
Carrots are packed with beta-carotene, a carotenoid that creates hue. This compound is also a precursor to vitamin A. And since it’s a powerful antioxidant, it can stop oxidative damage and reduce your risk of age-related degeneration.1 No wonder these veggies are called “X-ray vision carrots”! Try them as a snack with hummus or herby yogurt dip.
2. Bell Peppers
Brightly colored bell peppers are loaded with nutrients that help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). A single cup of bell peppers provides 100 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin A. They are also rich in vitamin C content.2 They are fat-free, low in calories and contain three grams of fiber per cup. Apart from their vast nutritious value, bell peppers are also quite filling and help curb your hunger.
Besides being rich in antioxidants, all berries are fantastic sources of vitamin C, which help reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts.3 Blackcurrants are packed with some of the highest levels of the antioxidant called anthocyanins found in nature. Red colored berries are also a rich source of beta-carotene, which is good for the eyes.
The nutrients in blueberries can prevent many disorders that eventually lead to impaired vision or blindness. Vitamin C also protects the body from free radicals, which damage the eyes. It reduces intraocular pressure and decreases the possibility of developing glaucoma. Berries are high in zinc that aids eye health and protects against macular degeneration and night blindness.
Broccoli is a fiber-rich vegetable that is rich in vitamin C4 and also contains vision-boosting beta-carotene, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin. Researchers have also found ways to enhance the potency of broccoli that can help treat age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss that affects over 10 million Americans.5 Broccoli can be used in a variety of ways and tastes great when cooked or shallow fried or sauteed.
5. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are also full of beta-carotene and vitamin A. Without these nutrients, the retina wouldn’t be able to function properly. They’re important for adaptation to dim light and darkness, too. And since this nutrient stimulates cell growth, it improves your eye health.6 These are some good reasons to ditch starchy white potatoes. To eat more sweet potatoes, make baked fries or hash browns.
The vibrant color of squash means that it’s rich in vitamin A. If you want better vision, have squash. It will also help you see better in lower lighting.7 Relatives of squash, like pumpkins, also count. For a delicious and healthy dessert, make a pie with squash or pumpkin.
For more antioxidants, chow down on kale. This green leafy veggie has two powerful carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin. These protect your eyes against cataracts, a condition that develops when the eye’s proteins become damaged. It also causes your lens to become cloudy. Fortunately, carotenoids can lower your risk.8 It works great in smoothies and salads.
Like kale, spinach is a dark green leafy vegetable that has lutein and zeaxanthin. It also contains vitamin C, another antioxidant that can help boost your eye health. Together, these nutrients can ward off cataracts. And even if you already have them, vitamin C will slow down the progression.9
Oranges are rich in another carotenoid called beta-cryptoxanthin. It provides antioxidant defense while promoting awesome eyesight. And since it’s a precursor of vitamin A, the retina will benefit.10 It’s a pretty good reason to make some fresh orange juice.
Beta-cryptoxanthin can also be found in persimmons, a sweet and fragrant fruit. But since it’s not very common, you might have never had one! The benefits of persimmons for your eye are good enough to make you try them. You can eat it by itself or add it to smoothies.
11. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds contain more omega-3 fatty acids than flax seeds or salmon. They also provide more calcium than a glass of milk and more antioxidants than blueberries. Chia seeds are also a great way to get more fiber into your diet. Its high omega-3 fatty acid content helps to maintain a healthy ocular surface and help improve dry eye conditions.11 Chia exhibits a very favorable omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of 3 to 1. Experts recommend it for overall ocular, retinal and macular health and it is beneficial for healthy tear production, the macula and retina, and the lens system of the eye.
Nuts can also make your eyesight amazing. It’s loaded with vitamin E, zinc, and essential fatty acids – all of which can benefit your eye. You’ll have protection against growing cataracts while stopping new ones.12 The zinc in nuts can also decrease the risk of age-related macular degeneration.13 To eat more nuts, make a trail mix or homemade granola bars. You can even toss them into salads and pasta.
Salmon is one of the healthiest meats you can eat. The omega-3 fatty acids in it will enhance your eye health and make it better.14 Specifically, it does this by increasing the regrowth of vessels in the retina.15 Omega-3s can also work with zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin E to fight macular degeneration. To reap the benefits, add salmon to a salad made with the veggies on this list.
Evidence from studies shows that lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids found in corn, may protect against the common eye disease of macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin deposits are up to five times higher in the macular region of the retina as compared to the peripheral retina.16
These are the only carotenoids in the macula of the retina that is responsible for sharp and detailed vision.17 The highest mole percentage of both lutein and zeaxanthin is found in egg yolk and maize. The researchers noted that cooking corn for a longer duration increased the amount of lutein and the antioxidant levels per serving.
Love egg salad? You’re in luck. Lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin A, and zinc can all be found in eggs. This food is also packed with protein, so they’ll keep you full for a long time. To incorporate more eggs into your diet, make a batch of hard-boiled eggs at the beginning of each week. They’ll be ready for breakfasts, salads, and sandwiches over the next few days.18
16. Whole Grains
A diet consisting of foods low in glycemic index (GI) can help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration that causes the gradual loss of central vision and does not have a possible cure.19 Even low-glycemic-index foods such as oatmeal may protect against early AMD.20 Avoid consuming refined carbohydrates and instead opt for whole grains, quinoa, whole oats, brown rice, whole oats and whole-wheat breads and pasta. The vitamin E, zinc and niacin found in whole grains also help promote overall eye health.
Legumes such as chickpeas, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, and lentils are good sources of bioflavonoids and zinc that help prevent cataract formation and even the loss of vision. They also taste great when dried, canned or cooked with some salt, peppers, and herbs. Research shows that patients with age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) appear to consume fewer fruits and legumes.
The intake of large amounts of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids reduces the risk of developing ARMD, due to their anti-angiogenic and neuroprotective effects.21 Studies have demonstrated that supplements including vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and zinc may reduce the progression to advanced ARMD in some patients by 25 percent in five years.22
18. Oysters And Liver
People at high risk for age-related macular degeneration, or who are already experiencing the early stages of ARMD, may benefit from increased zinc intake. Impaired vision, such as poor night vision and cloudy cataracts, has been linked to zinc deficiency.23
But, since high doses of zinc may upset the stomach, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends 11 mg/day of zinc for men and 8 mg/day for women. Zinc deficiencies have been shown to affect ocular development, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and even diabetic retinopathy.24 Besides oysters and liver, red meat, poultry, milk, shellfish, baked beans, and whole grains are good sources of zinc.
19. Dairy Products
Eating dairy products will also boost your vitamin A and zinc intake. 25 Together, these will give you, even more, protection against vision loss. Healthy dairy choices include fortified low-fat or skim milk, cottage cheese, and yogurt.
20. Wheat Germ
Wheat germ is a rich source of vitamin E, an important antioxidant that protects the eyes from free-radical damage. Though vitamin E can help in slowing the progression of macular degeneration, it does not reduce the incidence.26 It protects cells in the body from oxidation, which can cause deterioration and disease. Vitamin E also helps decrease the progression of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Wheat germ can be included into baked foods or into oatmeal, stews, yogurt, salads or blended with smoothies.
Wearing sunglasses is another great way to protect your eyesight. You should also take breaks when working on the computer. These habits will help maintain your eye health, even as you get older.
|↑2||Kantar, Michael B., Justin E. Anderson, Sarah A. Lucht, Kristin Mercer, Vivian Bernau, Kyle A. Case, Nina C. Le et al. “Vitamin variation in Capsicum Spp. provides opportunities to improve nutritional value of human diets.” PloS one 11, no. 8 (2016): e0161464.|
|↑3||Rasmussen, Helen M., and Elizabeth J. Johnson. “Nutrients for the aging eye.” Clinical interventions in aging 8 (2013): 741.|
|↑4||Porter, Yvette. “Antioxidant properties of green broccoli and purple-sprouting broccoli under different cooking conditions.” Bioscience Horizons 5 (2012): hzs004.|
|↑5||Improving on a broccoli-related compound yields a possible treatment for macular degeneration. Buck Institute for Research on Aging. 2016.|
|↑6||Vitamin A, Oregon State University|
|↑7||Vitamin A, MedlinePlus|
|↑8, ↑9, ↑12||Nutrition and Cataracts, American Optometric Association|
|↑10||Burri, Betty J. Beta-cryptoxanthin as a source of vitamin A. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 95.9(2015):1786-1794.|
|↑11||Franklin, Alexandra M., and Nobuko Hongu. “Chia seeds.” The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension (2016).|
|↑13||Zinc, American Optometric Association|
|↑14||Eye Health Tips ,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention|
|↑15||Connor, Kip M., John Paul SanGiovanni, Chatarina Lofqvist, Christopher M. Aderman, Jing Chen, Akiko Higuchi, Song Hong, Elke A. Pravda, Sharon Majchrzak, Deborah Carper, Ann Hellstrom, Jing X. Kang, Emily Y. Chew, Norman Salem, Jr., Charles N Serhan and Lois E.H. Smith. “Increased dietary intake of omega-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids reduces pathological retinal angiogenesis.” Nature Medicine 13(2007):868-873.|
|↑16||Mozaffarieh, Maneli, Stefan Sacu, and Andreas Wedrich. “The role of the carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, in protecting against age-related macular degeneration: a review based on controversial evidence.” Nutrition Journal 2, no. 1 (2003): 20.|
|↑17||Rouf Shah, Tajamul, Kamlesh Prasad, and Pradyuman Kumar. “Maize—A potential source of human nutrition and health: A review.” Cogent Food & Agriculture 2, no. 1 (2016): 1166995.|
|↑18||Missimer Amanda, Diana M. DiMarco, Catherine J. Andersen, Ana Gabriela Murillo, Marcela Vergara-Jimenez, and Maria Luz Fernandez. Consuming Two Eggs per Day, as Compared to an Oatmeal Breakfast, Decreases Plasma Ghrelin while Maintaining the LDL/HDL Ratio. Nutrients 9.2(2017):89.|
|↑19||Switch to a low-glycemic diet: Stop age-related eye disease. Tufts University. 2017.|
|↑20||Kaushik, Shweta, Jie Jin Wang, Victoria Flood, Jennifer Sue Ling Tan, Alan W. Barclay, Tien Y. Wong, Jennie Brand-Miller, and Paul Mitchell. “Dietary glycemic index and the risk of age-related macular degeneration.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 88, no. 4 (2008): 1104-1110.|
|↑21||Moschos, Marilita M., Eirini Nitoda, Irini P. Chatziralli, and Constantinos A. Demopoulos. “Age-related macular degeneration: pathogenesis, genetic background, and the role of nutritional supplements.” Journal of Chemistry 2014 (2014).|
|↑22||Carneiro, Ângela, and José Paulo Andrade. “Nutritional and Lifestyle Interventions for Age-Related Macular Degeneration: A Review.” Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity 2017 (2017).|
|↑23||Zinc. American Optometric Association.|
|↑24||Miao, Xiao, Weixia Sun, Lining Miao, Yaowen Fu, Yonggang Wang, Guanfang Su, and Quan Liu. “Zinc and diabetic retinopathy.” Journal of diabetes research 2013 (2013).|
|↑25||Vitamin A, National Institutes of Health|
|↑26||Thomas, David R. “Vitamins in aging, health, and longevity.” Clinical interventions in aging 1, no. 1 (2006): 81.|