Millions of Americans suffer from eye diseases; elderly people are particularly at risk. However, eating the correct foods can improve your eye health. Studies show that people who enhance their diet with Vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, and zinc cut the risks of developing age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) by about 25 percent. Below are some foods that contain important nutrients that will keep your eyesight sharp and reduce risks for developing eye problems.
Best Foods for Eyes
The eyes are vascular (blood vessels) and there is a close link between eye health and vascular health. Your eyes depend on a steady supply of blood. A heart-healthy diet that is low in both trans and saturated fat is as important to your eyes as it is to your heart. Foods rich in antioxidants are also known to help protect the eyes from ARMD – the leading cause of blindness and cataracts among elderly Americans.
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C protects your eye from ultraviolet light and the damage it can cause to your eyes. Vitamin C is also an effective antioxidant. Antioxidants protect cells from the natural effects of oxidation. Oxidation is a key factor in the development of ARMD and vitamin C acts as an age-protector for your eyes similar to how wax protects your car from the elements. Vitamin C is also believed to prevent cataracts and their development, but medical studies have shown inconclusive evidence on the subject.
Since millions of Americans drink orange juice, many Americans are getting the recommended standard dosage of Vitamin C. For men, it’s 90 milligrams; for women it’s 75 milligrams. However, studies indicate as much as 300 milligrams or more is needed to prevent cataracts.
Red bell peppers, pineapple, papaya, mango, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kohlrabi, mustard greens, parsley, strawberries, raspberries, kiwi fruit, guava, and cantaloupe are all excellent sources of vitamin C. A serving of papaya alone can give you 313% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA).
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2. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant that’s often found in healthy foods high in vegetable oils. In the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, researchers found a 25 percent lower risk of developing advanced stages of ARMD when taking vitamin E. Vitamin E may also prevent cataracts.
Foods rich in vitamin E are tofu, spinach, almonds, sunflower seeds, fortified cereals, avocado, shrimp, fish, olive oil, broccoli, squash, pumpkin, wheat germ, and peanut butter.
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Zinc is vital to the eye and the trace mineral is found in abundance in the retina. Zinc acts as a guard against the development of some early forms of ARMD. With age, zinc levels decline in the eye so it’s important to keep your zinc levels up as you get older.
Foods rich in zinc are wheat germ, oysters, clams, garbanzo beans, mushrooms, black-eyed peas, lobster, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, tofu, brown rice, milk, chocolate, ground beef, lamb, turkey, and chicken.
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Beta-carotene promotes night vision because it is converted to vitamin A in your body which is a vital vitamin for fighting night blindness. Beta-carotene sustains healthy vision and may help prevent cataracts. Carotenoids are plant antioxidants that eye experts believe are essential in preventing ARMD. Carotenoids maintain the eye’s retina and macula. The macula is the center part of the retina and it focuses on images. If the macula is harmed, images in the center of the field of vision are blurred.
Sweet potato, apricots, kale: turnip greens, mustard greens, spinach, butternut squash, romaine lettuce, red bell pepper, collards, cantaloupe, mangoes, beet greens, sour cherries and of course, carrot are great sources of beta-carotene.
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Omega-3 fatty acid is found mainly in fish oil. A Johns Hopkins University study found people who consumed fish high in omega-3s fatty acids often were less likely to have ARMD. There is also strong evidence omega-3s protects against cataracts.
Fish, most particular sardines, salmon, herring, halibut, mackerel, fresh tuna, trout are great sources of omega-3. Other food sources include flax seeds, walnuts, tofu, kidney beans, spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower.
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6. Zeaxanthin and Lutein
Lutein and zeaxanthin – both nutrients and carotenoids – are thought to prevent and slow the progression of ARMD and as well as stop cataracts. Lutein and zeaxanthin filter high energy blue wavelengths of light that can be harmful to your eye and act as antioxidants to the eye. A Tuffs University study found women over the age of 50 who used more lutein and zeaxanthin in their diet were 23 percent less likely to develop cataracts than those who consumed less.
Foods rich in these nutrients include broccoli, kale, collards, spinach, corn, turnip greens, green peas, romaine lettuce, eggs, and Brussels sprouts.
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