The Connection Between Nutrition and Eye Health: What to Eat for Better Vision

eye health and nutrition

Nutrition and Eye Health

When you think about food that’s good for your eyes, what springs to mind? Carrots? While it’s true that carrots contain eye-friendly vitamin A, they are far from the only foods that benefit your eye health! There are several vitamins and minerals found in food that can help prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, two common causes of vision problems. Are you ready to eat your way to better vision? Read on to learn how.

What Nutrients Boost Eye Health?

There is evidence to support the idea that antioxidant vitamins and minerals, including A, C, E, and zinc, can slow the progression of macular degeneration. This is because antioxidants fight free radicals in the retina, protecting it from damage. Additionally, the retina contains the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, and eating these compounds can also provide antioxidants, as well as improving pigment density. Dense pigment is beneficial because it absorbs excess blue and ultraviolet light and neutralizes free radicals, protecting cells in the macular area. Another beneficial nutrient is DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 fatty acid that benefits retinal health and has anti-inflammatory properties.

How to Fill Your Plate with Eye-Healthy Nutrients

Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in fruits, vegetables, and egg yolks. Vitamins A, C, and E are found in vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, and red meat and shellfish are good sources of zinc. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include coldwater fish, flaxseed, and walnuts. Let’s look at some specific foods you can eat to get the nutrients your eyes need.

  • Brightly colored peppers have tons of vitamin C, which helps lower the risk of cataracts. They also contain vitamins A and E. Other fruits and vegetables with vitamin C include bok choy, Brussels sprouts, citrus fruits, cauliflower, papayas, and strawberries, and eating these foods raw is the best way to get the most vitamin C, because this vitamin breaks down with heat.
  • For vitamin E, look to sunflower seeds and nuts. Vitamin E helps slow age-related macular degeneration, and can help prevent cataracts. It’s found in almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, and peanut butter, too.
  • Dark, leafy greens are packed with nutrients. Eating kale, spinach, and collard greens is a good way to get vitamins C and E, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin. Other great options include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, corn, eggs, nectarines, oranges, papayas, and squash.
  • Omega fatty acids are found in flaxseeds, nuts, and fatty fish. DHA and EPA are both necessary for proper retinal function, and these can both be found in salmon, trout, tuna, and other seafood. Other good sources include flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, and walnuts.
  • Orange colored fruits and vegetables are high in beta carotene. This form of vitamin A, great for improving night vision, is found in sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, mangos, and apricots.
  • Eggs are powerhouses of nutrition. Eggs contain zinc, and that zinc helps your body use the lutein and zeaxanthin from the egg yolks.
  • Zinc comes in carnivore and vegetarian options. Meat eaters can consume it in lean meat and poultry, while those with plant-based diets can find it in yogurt, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, and lentils.

Regular Visits to the Eye Doctor are the Best Way to Promote Eye Health

In addition to eating the right foods, you’ll need to find the right eye doctor to protect your vision. If you’re looking for an eye doctor in Derry, Londonderry, or Windham, Spindel Eye Associates is here for you. Having spent over 35 years providing eye care in New Hampshire, our ophthalmologists and optometrists proudly provide our patients with personalized eye care, using top of the line technology. For more information or to schedule an eye exam call 603.421.6536 or contact us through our website.