Being in better shape, trying to lower high cholesterol or even stabilizing high blood pressure, these are usually the first things that come to mind when switching to a healthy lifestyle and balancing your diet. As important as these may all be, we usually overlook the fact that a healthy diet can also help us keep our eyes stronger for longer. A balanced diet can help us see better, prevent various eye related diseases and in some cases even prevent blindness. It’s easy to see why it’s extremely important to keep an eye on what you’re eating. Below is a handy list of what you’ll need to see more of in your diet to have healthier eyesight and where you can find it.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3’s give us a wide spectrum of health boosts from our brains to our bodies, but did you know they can also have some extremely helpful eye health benefits? Omega-3’s are easily soluble fats that our body can’t produce on its own. To simplify things, we’ll say that they help everything run more smoothly throughout our body as opposed to regular fats. They are also crucial to the healthy development of cells, muscles and organs. Since our eyes are organs, they tend to develop better when we start including more omega-3’s which is where the health benefits play in. Diseases like high eye pressure, glaucoma, dry eye syndrome and macular degeneration can all be prevented by including some more omega-3s in your diet.
Where to find it:
The most common way to find omega-3’s is in cold water fish such as salmon, tuna and certain types of mackerel. It can also be found in certain nuts and seeds like hazelnuts, walnuts and chia seeds. Egg yolks are also a very good source of omega-3s and are easily accessible.
Lutein and zeaxanthin
This dynamic duo of antioxidants is one of the reasons your mom always told you to eat your greens. Lutein is a carotenoid that can be found in the macula within our eyes that comes with many benefits. One of its most useful is its ability to block out harmful light from entering and damaging our eyes. Zeaxanthin is the most common carotenoid found in the eye and is very helpful for general eye health but is more effective when paired together with lutein. These two antioxidants can help prevent things like cataracts, help prevent vision loss or blindness and help prevent eye fatigue while gradually strengthening eye tissue.
Where to find them:
Both of these powerful antioxidants can be found in dark, leafy greens like kale, collard greens and spinach. They can also be found in certain fruits and vegetables like avocados, peas and broccoli. Egg yolks are very good sources of lutein but unfortunately lack zeaxanthin.
You know what they say, a glass of OJ a day keeps the ophthalmologist away. Vitamin C is usually associated with immune system benefits, but it’s also great for maintaining your eye health. We have hundreds of capillaries located in our eyes that depend on vitamin C to stay healthy and function correctly. Doing so can help prevent things like cataracts in the long run. Scientists have also found that vitamin C can help significantly slow down the forming of age-related macular degeneration in our eyes.
Where to find it:
Citrus is always the ideal source of vitamin C, things like orange, lemons, limes and grapefruit are great sources of vitamin C. Some leafy greens like spinach are also fantastic sources of vitamin C.
The human body often does not get the amount of zinc that it needs, having the healthy amount (40-80 mg a day) can lead to several eye health benefits. Zinc helps the body transfer vitamin A from the liver all the way up to the retina. This helps keep our eyes healthy and prevents them from getting cloudy which leads to vision loss. Proper zinc consumption can prevent things like eye infection, cataracts and potential loss of hair from the eyelashes and eyebrows.
Where to find it:
Adding zinc into a diet by non-artificial means is a bit trickier than other eye health foods, but it is very doable. Red meat, poultry and eggs are a great source of natural zinc. Some seeds like sunflower seeds are also great sources of zinc. Oysters are by far the best natural source of zinc you can find, weighing in at 76 mg per serving.
As you can see, there are several healthy alternatives we can take to keep our vision at peak health. Changing up our diet can not only help us prevent diseases but can also help us see better and keep our eyesight longer.
- Heiting, G. (2017, March). Eye Benefits Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Retrieved from All About Vision: http://www.allaboutvision.com/nutrition/fatty_acid_1.htm
- Lutein & Zeaxanthin. (2015, March). Retrieved from American Optometric Association: https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/diet-and-nutrition/lutein
- Zinc. (2015, March). Retrieved from American Optometric Association: https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/diet-and-nutrition/zinc
- Vitamin C. (2015, March). Retrieved from American Optometric Association: https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/diet-and-nutrition/vitamin-c