Protecting your eyesight begins with your diet. The foods you eat often offer protection to your eyes by keeping them well nourished and moist. Eating to protect and improve your eye health and vision means eating foods that are especially rich in six nutrients:
- Antioxidants – lutein and zeaxanthin
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Essential Fatty Acids
- Vitamins C
- Vitamin E
Although the body does not manufacture these nutrients, they are important to overall eye health as scientists believe they help to protect our eyes from problems related to age such as cataracts,macular degeneration and dry eye. Usually we can meet satisfactory levels of these nutrients through diet alone.
Foods rich in these nutrients are colorful fruits and vegetables. According to the American Optometric Association, one in four Americans (30 million) age 40 and older are afflicted with some measurable vision loss, but, only 30 percent of us make sure to eat specific foods to help improve vision and eye health.
Is everything we heard as kids about carrots and eyesight true? Yes! The orange coloring that's distinctive to carrots is due to its high content of beta-carotene. When we eat carrots, the beta-carotene metabolizes into Vitamin A. This vitamin helps improves vision, especially night vision. But, eating raw carrots releases only 5 percent of the beta-carotene a carrot contains. To maximize the amount to almost 50 percent, pulp the carrots and cook them with oil.
Sweet potatoes and all orange-colored fruits and vegetables are colored orange from their carotenoid compounds that infuse their meat and skin. These carotenoid compounds are antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that scour the body in search of free radicals, atoms or molecules that oxidize cells in our bodies and damage them. By cleaning free radicals from the body, we not only improve eyesight but we also help nurture our immune systems.
What Bugs Bunny did for carrots, Popeye did for spinach. Growing up, every kid learned spinach was good for the body. Back then, we believed that the iron in spinach made us stronger. Today we know that spinach is also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin — two antioxidants that help ward off macular degeneration. Lutein also reduces the likelihood of developing cataracts.
The darker green the vegetable is, the higher its lutein content. A tip to help you get all the lutein benefit from green vegetables possible is drip a bit of olive oil over your greens after sautéing them. The fat in the olive oil increases our body’s absorption of this important antioxidant. Other lutein and zeaxanthin-rich vegetables include squash, kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard, turnip greens, collards, green peas and broccoli.
People who wear the best quality contact lenses and glasses, like those purchased from visiondirect.com know that proper eye care is more than maintaining their lenses or frames. They know eating for good vision closely follows the same guidelines as eating for a healthy heart. Reduce saturated fat, keep your weight under control and increase your intake of antioxidants. Start today by eating tasty, vitamin rich and nutritious foods to reduce the risk of eye disease, help your vision and maintain healthy eyes. Anyone up for a spinach smoothie?