Health & Wellness

7 Best Foods For Eye Health

You’ve likely heard that eating carrots can be good for your eyes, but did you know there are several other foods for eye health as well?

A wide variety of factors cause blindness and visual impairment including genetics, old age, and many different diseases. But you don’t have to resign yourself to worsening eyesight as you age. Luckily, there are severaltop foods for eye health that you can eat to support healthy eyesight as you get older.

Foods that are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E are all good choices for eye health.

In addition to these, the American Optometric Association (AOA) also recommends a diet rich in lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc to prevent age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and other eye health issues. [1]

 

Top Foods for Eye Health

Remember all those times your mom, teacher, and other important adults in your life told you to eat your fruits and vegetables? Turns out they were right

There are so many foods for eye health, many of which you can find in the produce aisle of your favorite grocery store. Here are seven foods for eye health that you probably already eat!

1. Avocados

The next time someone jokes with you about millennials and their avocado toast, you may want to remind them of the health benefits of avocados. You see, avocados are a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. They also contain lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids. [2]

Avocados contain just about every nutrient recommended by the AOA to prevent age-related eyesight problems. And, as a result, they’re one of the top foods for eye health.

Incorporating more avocado into your diet is easy. Try adding it to your favorite sandwich or salad. Or get fancy and make some guacamole. Either way, you’re in for a delicious and nutritious meal!

2. Carrots

Carrots are a colorful and delectable addition to many meals. You can eat them raw or roast them to go along with your favorite protein for dinner. Did you know that they’re also one of the great foods for eye health?

A 2013 literature review established carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, as essential to prevent eye health concerns. In addition to environmental and genetic factors, they found that multiple studies identified lutein and zeaxanthin deficiency as causes for cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. [3]

To test how well carrots can improve retinal function, another study gave carotenoid-rich carrot powder to rats. Researchers gave streptozotocin to some of the rats after three weeks to induce diabetes.

After 12 weeks, the nondiabetic rats who consumed the carrot powder had significantly higher brain activity from the cones and rods in their eyes than the rats eating the control diet. [4]

However, the diabetic rats didn’t have the same response. If you’re considering increasing your consumption of carrots to promote eye health and you have diabetes, you may want to discuss other alternatives with your healthcare provider.

3. Kale

In recent years, kale has become extremely popular among health-conscious people. Now, you can find kale salads, kale chips, and other sources of this green, leafy vegetable just about anywhere.

Turns out kale fans are onto something! And research has shown that kale is one of the top foods for eye health.

In 2013, scientists conducted a double-blind study on 20 patients with age-related macular degeneration. They measured each patient’s levels of xanthophylls (which help you see light) in their plasma and macular pigment density before beginning the experiment.

Each patient in the experimental group consumed a drink with oleaginous extract of kale containing 10 mg lutein and 3 mg zeaxanthin every day for four weeks, while the control group consumed a drink with rapeseed oil. [5]

Patients in the experimental group experienced a significant increase of xanthophylls in their plasma and macular pigment density after four weeks. However, the benefit decreased after they stopped taking the kale extract drink for an additional four weeks.

It’s clear that consuming kale has great benefits for your eyesight, but those benefits decrease if you stop consuming it. As a result, you’ll need to consume kale regularly to experience its eye health benefits.

4. Kiwi

Fruit is a sweet and delicious part of any healthy diet. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that most people consume between one and one and a half cups of fruit every single day. [6]

The fruit you consume improves your health in many ways, but one of its most interesting benefits of eating kiwi is its ability to reduce your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. [7]

Kiwi, in particular, may contribute to this benefit due to its high content of lutein and zeaxanthin, making it one of the best foods for eye health.

Adding more kiwi to your diet can be as simple as eating it as a snack, or you can dress it up in a tasty fruit salad. However you decide to eat it, it’s clear that it’s a great choice to support healthy eyes.

5. Mangoes

The yellow-orange flesh of mangoes is a sure sign of their eye health benefits. Fruits and vegetables that are yellow or orange contain high levels of carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, which are great for your eyes!

Mangoes are also a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. In fact, they contain about two-thirds of the daily recommended value of vitamin C for most people. [8]

To include more mango in your diet, you can cut up a fresh one and eat it raw, put it one of your favorite smoothie recipes, or make a tasty mango salsa! Those are some tasty ways to take advantage of one of the great foods for eye health!

6. Peaches

Raw peaches are amazing, but they are also great to cook and bake with. Peach cobbler, peach pie, grilled peaches—the possibilities are endless! So, it’s easy to include more of this delicious fruit in your diet to support the health of your eyes.

Peaches contain nutrients that are beneficial for your eyes including vitamin A and vitamin C. As one of the top foods for eye health, you can also reduce your risk of glaucoma!

One study found that women who ate one serving of peaches every week were 47 percent less likely to develop glaucoma. [9] You can try adding more peaches to your diet in a salad, or as a quick and easy snack!

7. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are delicious and versatile root vegetables that are dense with nutrients. Like carrots, sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A. That’s because they both contain a pigment called beta carotene, which converts to vitamin A once you consume it

In fact, 100 grams of sweet potatoes contain nearly the entire daily recommended value of vitamin A, making it one of the great foods for eye health. [10]

Add more to your diet by baking or roasting them to go with your dinner. You can even add a bit of cinnamon and brown sugar to make it a sweet treat

Whether you’re trying to prevent eye health issues as you age, or you want to slow the effects of aged-related macular degeneration, eating these fruits and vegetables are a great way to get started!

 

Foods for eye health - Dr. Pingel

 

Key Takeaways

  • Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids are amazing nutrients that are great for your eyes. You can eat foods that are rich in these nutrients to improve eye health.
  • If you choose to eat kale for its eye health benefits, you need to do so consistently. The positive effects start to wear off if you don’t eat it frequently enough.
  • Not sure which fruits and vegetables are good for your eyes? Here’s an essential life hack: yellow and orange fruits and vegetables contain beta carotene, which converts to vitamin A. Eat these to support the health of your eyes!

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