Food for eye health: advice from a nutritionist

Eye health goes hand in hand with gen­er­al health, but some nutri­ents are espe­cial­ly impor­tant for our eyes.

eye products

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 products

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.

products vitamins for eyes


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

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.

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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.

Want more use­ful arti­cles? Fol­low Anna Kovalchuk on Insta­gram and read the col­umn on the “Lisa” web­site!

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