Eating a nutritious whole food diet is great for overall health. Not only do whole foods contain macro-nutrients like Vitamin C and E that we learned about in school, they also contain enzymes and micro-nutrients.
If you’re turning to supplements for eye health, start by looking at to your plate first.
These 7 nutrient-rich foods for eye health help keep eyes healthy and vision strong:
1. Cold-water fish
The cold-water fish provides many eye health benefits.
Cold-water fish are packed full of Omega 3 fats. These healthy fats not only reduce inflammation, which can improve dry eye symptoms, but studies have shown that they may also reduce abnormal vessel growth in those with diabetic retinopathy. That’s one of the leading causes of blindness in middle age adults.
Similar studies have shown a reduction in risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). You’re never too young to make eye-healthy food choices like eating more cold-water fish to prevent eye problems down the road.
2. Nuts & seeds
If you don’t like fish, you’re in luck. Many nuts and seeds also have Omega’s 3’s. You can easily serve these up as healthy snacks or grind them. Add them to yogurt, or other foods for better eye health.
Some of the nuts and seeds with the highest Omega 3’s are:
3. Dark greens
Dark leafy greens contain vitamins and nutrients essential for eye health. These include primarily lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients provide plants with their the yellowish pigment found in many green foods.
When humans consume them, they act as natural UV blocker for your eyes. We’re not suggesting that you trade out your prescription sunglasses for kale, but by blocking UV rays they may prevent cataracts and AMD that can be caused by excessive sun exposure.
To protect your eyes, eat more of these green foods:
Add some dark greens to a salad. Eat some carrots for lunch. Help yourself to more green peas at dinner time. These antioxidants are also found in yellow vegetables.
If greens aren’t your thing, eating more eggs can help you get more lutein and zeaxanthin in your diet. One study showed that eating 12 eggs a week significantly decreased the symptoms of AMD and it improved retinal health. When tested, the participants showed increased levels of these antioxidants. This provides more solid proof that these antioxidants protect vision.
Citrus fruits like grapefruit, oranges and lemons are high in the antioxidant Vitamin C. According to the American Optometric Association, Vitamin C helps reduce the risk of cataracts. It’s believed that the Vitamin C helps the eye recover more quickly from environmental damage like cigarette smoke.
In a 10-year study, participants showed a 64% reduced risk of developing cataracts by regularly eating vitamin-rich foods. Another study showed that macular degeneration progression rate could be slowed with Vitamin C found in citrus.
This isn’t free reign to abuse your eyes, but it’s nice to know that the food we eat can help our bodies heal more effectively.
6. Beans & peas, including peanuts
Beans are great for eye health.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology states that any kind of legume contains loads of zinc. Studies have shown that zinc may also protect the eyes from UV rays.
7. Red meat
We don’t often hear of the health benefits of eating more red meat but it does contain nutrients that are important to your eyes, especially if you don’t get these nutrients anywhere else.
Beef contains fat, which helps you absorb fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A in carrots. Like other antioxidants we’ve discussed, Vitamin A helps protect the eyes from environmental damage. Red meat also contains zinc.
Whole foods & your eye health
These foods will help keep your eyes strong. They may also prevent or slow many age-related eye conditions you may face later. Eat a variety of these healthy foods for eye health!
This post originally appeared on Versant Eye.