Eye health goes hand in hand with general health, but some nutrients are especially important for our eyes.
These nutrients help maintain eye function, protect the eyes from harmful light and reduce the development of age-related degenerative diseases.
Adapting the right nutritional strategies is quite easy if you know what foods are good for eye health. Read the main advice of the nietologist-nutritionist Anna Kovalchuk.
Green foods are a rich source of plant chemicals called lutein and zeaxanthin. These chemicals actually protect plants from disease. But when we eat the same chemicals, we also get some protection. Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that filter out harmful high-energy blue light waves. Common sources of blue light include sunlight, fluorescent light, and LED televisions. Blue light also comes from smartphones, computer monitors and tablets.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are unique in that they accumulate in the human retina. Our bodies cannot produce these compounds, so we must eat them. There is growing evidence that these antioxidants help protect against both macular degeneration and cataracts.
The main sources are almost any green leafy vegetables. Spinach and cabbage lead the list. But if you’re not a fan of those two foods, choose any green vegetable and you’ll increase your chances of getting this protective nutrient into your body and then into your eyes.
Yellow-orange products are a source of beta-carotene. Your body converts beta-carotene into the active form of vitamin A after you eat it. Vitamin A helps prevent dry eyes and chicken blindness. Both beta-carotene and vitamin A reduce the development of eye infections.
Almost all yellow-orange products are rich in beta-carotene. Such as: pumpkin, zucchini, melon, carrots, yellow tomatoes, apricot and mango. You can also get vitamin A from milk, eggs, and liver.
Get enough vitamin C
Vitamin C is a key dietary antioxidant for our eyes and protects against both cataracts and macular degeneration. The good news is that vitamin C is found in all fruits and vegetables. So, if you don’t like citrus foods, you don’t need to eat them for vitamin C. By following the recommendation of green foods, as well as eating orange foods, you can easily meet your vitamin C needs.
Eat foods rich in zinc
Zinc is a mineral that activates enzymes in the body and plays a key role in producing the active form of vitamin A in our eye pigment. Zinc is concentrated in the eyes in the same way as lutein and zeaxanthin. Poor night vision and cataracts are associated with zinc deficiency. Since the body does not produce zinc, it must come from food or supplements.
CLOSELY! High doses of zinc can cause stomach upset and interfere with the absorption of copper and iron.
Food sources of zinc include animal protein, shellfish, dairy products, and grains.
Get enough vitamin E
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that plays a key role in reducing the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Cataracts form when the lens of the eye oxidizes in response to UV rays from sunlight. The role of vitamin E in the diet is to counteract this oxidation.
Fatty foods such as oils, seeds, nuts and wheat germ are good sources of vitamin E. However, high frying temperatures or extreme processing destroy vitamin E. Eat more unprocessed sources of oil and fat (salad oils, nuts, seeds) and you will have a better chance of meeting your vitamin E needs.
Strengthen gut health for eye health
Gut bacteria also play a role in preventing macular degeneration. Gut health is always improved if the diet is rich in nutrients and these bacteria in the gut receive beneficial prebiotics. Foods rich in prebiotics are fuel for gut bacteria. Fruits and vegetables are generally some of the best prebiotic foods you can feed your gut bacteria.
Limit your intake of foods high in sodium
Too much salt or sodium can raise blood pressure. This can lead to increased intraocular pressure in the eyes, which can worsen glaucoma. Excess sodium can also be a risk factor for cataract formation. Eat more fresh, unprocessed foods to easily lower your sodium intake. Replace salt with natural spices and herbs.
A few words about eye supplements
Although food is your best source of lutein and zeaxanthin, dietary supplements are widely available. Although there is no recommended amount of lutein and zeaxanthin, supplementation may provide good protection for those who do not regularly eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and/or are at risk of eye disease.
Key points of nutrition for eye health
You can eat better today to improve your vision in the future. Proper nutrition for the eyes includes plenty of green food and even green tea. Add more yellow-orange foods and you’re off to a good start. All those green and yellow-orange foods will also give you plenty of vitamin C. Make sure you’re getting enough zinc by eating good quality protein from meat, poultry or dairy. Eat unprocessed sources of vitamin E and watch your sodium intake. Make sure you’re strengthening your gut bacteria with plenty of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables of all colors.
Healthy lifestyle habits, such as a balanced diet and regular exercise, can help prevent many chronic diseases, including eye disease.
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