GET THE JUICE ON EYE HEALTH
Nutrition is a very important part of eye health. Our eyes are one of the most fascinating and complicated parts of the body. What can we do without them? From sharing beautiful moments with our loved ones, to capturing amazing images from a lens, our eyesight makes all the difference in the world, yet we often take our eyes for granted until problems arise. It’s time to take steps towards optimal eye health, which simply begins with a trip to the grocery store. There are many familiar foods that contain properties that are beneficial to the eyes. Here are five to get you started.
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens contain two properties that are beneficial to the eyes, lutein and zeaxanthin which protect the eye tissues from sunlight damage and reduces the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration (both are eye diseases). You can find these properties in dark leafy greens including kale, spinach and collard greens. Be sure to consume some form of healthy fat, such as a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, for better absorption of these properties. Dark leafy greens also contain other eye-friendly nutrients such as beta carotene and vitamin C.
Not only are blueberries amazing in taste and versatile, they also contain properties that protect against eye disease. They pack about 14 milligrams of vitamin C per cup, and if you didn’t know, vitamin C is crucial against protecting the body from free radicals which can damage the eyes and cause disease. They also contain zinc, an important mineral that helps protect against macular degeneration and night blindness research shows, allowing better eye adjustment in dark conditions. Add blueberries to your salads, yogurts or eat them alone!
Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fats or as some would call, “healthy fats”. They play an important role in eye health. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), a type of omega -3 fatty acid is naturally concentrated in the retina of the eye and research suggests that it promotes healthy retinal function. Omega 3’s can also help reduce dry eye syndrome, a chronic eye disease caused by a decrease in tear production. So next time you are at the grocery store, grab yourself a couple ounces of salmon, trust us, your eyes will thank you later.
Sweet potatoes have an amazing source of beta carotene, which research suggests that it may slow down the progression of macular degeneration, an eye disease that causes vision loss. Your body converts beta carotene to vitamin A, which helps prevent dry eyes and night blindness. They also help to reduce the risk of eye infections.
Surprisingly, eggs are full of eye-friendly nutrients. The yolks contain a high content of lutein, a type of carotenoid that helps fight macular degeneration, the leading cause of legal blindness. They also contain zeaxanthin, an antioxidant found in the egg yolk which helps protect against damage due to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Both zeaxanthin and lutein help reduce the risk of developing cataracts. Boil an egg and have it as part of your breakfast or for a snack!
Along with getting the most from what you eat, you can protect the health of your eyes by getting an eye exam every year. Combining good nutrition with yearly checkups will increase your defense against serious health conditions. Visit the National Eye Institute for more information on eye health.