Growing up, many children may have heard their mothers say, “Eat your carrots – they’re good for your eyes!”
While carrots are high in plant carotenoids that produce vitamin A, they are not at the top of the ocular superstar food list.
Some of the most beneficial foods for maintaining eye health at any age include the following foods: spinach, oysters, green tea, walnuts, pumpkin, goji berries and salmon.
We’ll discuss some of the reasons why these foods are beneficial.
Spinach, and its cousin kale contain large quantities of the nutrient lutein, which has been linked to a reduced risk of cataract surgery. Spinach also contains carotenoids beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, both important nutrients for eye health.
Gogi berrys are readily found in dried form in the Asian section of most supermarkets, and are the super food of the eye health world. According to nutritionists, they have the highest content of zeaxanthin of any food known.
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and it’s the fatty acids that help to lower the risk of macular degeneration in adults. Nutrients in salmon also protect against glaucoma and dry eye.
Oysters aren’t for everyone, but they are packed with more zinc than practically any other food. Nutrition experts say that zinc aids in bringing vitamin A from the liver, where it is stored, to the retina in your eye to produce melanin, a protective eye pigment. Oysters have nearly 500 percent of the daily value of zinc.
Green tea is a rich source for a variety of flavonoids, a family of antioxidants that help protect the retina from solar radiation damage. Researchers found that green tea consumption has been associated with lower risks of certain types of glaucoma in animal studies.
Walnuts are a rich source of plant-based omega fatty acids, which are different from the variety found in seafood. These fatty acids may also help maintain vascular health, like blood flow and lipid levels, which is critical to how the eyes, as well as the rest of the body, functions.
Pumpkin is a very good source of lutein and zeaxanthin, the carotenoids regarded by many experts as some of the most important nutrients for preventing age-related eye disease. Both of these protect the macula of the eye, and can be very beneficial for older people whose diets may lack the nutrients that make them more susceptible to age-related macular degeneration.
While eating healthy foods is a great way to protect eye health, it’s important to have regular checkups with your Optometric Physician.
William C. Womble, O.D.
1822 Huntsville Hwy, Suite D