Foods to maintain 20/20
It’s been well documented that your diet has a direct affect on your overall health and wellbeing. What about the health of your eyes? In this new decade, 2020, there’s no better time to focus on 20/20 vision and your eye health.
Research shows that the risk of macular degeneration and other eye-related diseases can be reduced through diet and the consumption of antioxidant and nutrient-rich foods. For example, antioxidants including carotenoids, flavonoids and anthocyanins are shown to reduce the risk of eye-related diseases.
The most talked about antioxidant are carotenoids (think carrots!). There are more than 1,100 known types of carotenoids produced by plants and algae. Scientists believe there are more types to be discovered and recommend ingesting natural food sources over synthetic supplements because consuming them naturally enhances their antioxidant effects. Carotenoids are the orange, red and yellow pigments that give color to pumpkins, carrots, tomatoes and corn.
Top 5 Foods to Protect Your Eye Health
All of these foods contribute to corneal health and the clarity of your visual performance. They also contribute to your overall health.
Think spinach, kale, chard and other dark greens. These foods are high in lutein and zeaxanthin—two antioxidants that are stored in the eye. Unfortunately, the body does not produce it’s own lutein and zeaxanthin so you’ll want to consume them through food sources. Studies show that 100 grams of greens (approximately 1 cup cooked) can reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration and improve visual performance.
Nuts and Seeds
Almonds, pistachios, pecans, and sunflower seeds have all been shown to slow age-related macular degeneration and may prevent cataracts. That’s because nuts and seeds are loaded with vitamin E—a fat-soluble antioxidant. Studies show that just one ounce per day has 50% of the vitamin E recommend by the USDA. What’s more, nuts and seeds have been shown to decrease cholesterol. They’re also rich in phytochemicals, which are important “health guardians.”
Cold water fish, particularly fatty fish like salmon, sardines and tuna have a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids which help protect against macular degeneration, cataracts, and dry eyes. The fatty acids in the fish contribute to healthier eyes by increasing the flow of intraocular fluid in the front of the eye. Research has shown that the inclusion of omega-3 fatty acids resulted in a 38% reduction in the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Fruits and Vegetables
Colorful produce such as red bell peppers, tomatoes, blueberries and cantaloupe are high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and antioxidants. These foods offer blood vessel support for healthy eyes and may reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. To ensure your getting the highest quality nutrition, doctors recommend eating an array of seasonal and colorful nutrient-dense produce.
Some nutritionists call eggs the perfect food. With only 70 calories and 5 grams of fat per large egg, they have all the essential amino acids, scoring high as a perfect protein source. They are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, the carotenoids that have been shown to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the United States, affecting approximately 10 million people.