We all know the benefits of making healthy meal choices. When we eat right, we have more energy to keep up with the hustle of every day life, and that’s no secret. But did you know that when you make a healthy choice for lunch or that afternoon snack, you are giving your eyes a boost of beneficial nutrients too? Here’s how:
1) Antioxidants, especially luetin and zeaxanthin:
These two powerhouse antioxidants are found in any fruit or vegetable that are deeply pigmented. So when you are at the grocery store or farmer’s market, pick the darkest fruit or veggies that you can! Try eggplants or purple bell peppers for a side dish with dinner. When fruit is on your list, grab some cherries or blueberries, and you are going to fulfill your daily dose of these antioxidants. There are supplements that are packed full of these things, but if you get it from your diet, you will absorb more and get other great health benefits.
So what do antioxidants do for your eyes? They are protective to your macula, which is essential to clear vision. If the macula is not healthy, the photo-receptors there can’t regenerate themselves, so keeping your diet high in antioxidants will contribute to the longevity of these important cells throughout your life.
These essential fatty acids are great for balancing moisture production, not only all over your body, but specifically in your tear film. If you have dry eyes, or experience occasional dryness with contact lens wear, consider adding an omega supplement to your diet. We need about 2,000 mg per day, so while it’s important to keep your diet high in good fats, you likely will benefit from adding a little extra. When you start taking these, try to be as consistent as possible. You will notice the benefits after about 3 weeks of consistent use. (We have some here at the office, so next time you are in, ask us about it!)
3) Vitamins – specifically A,C and E:
Vitamin A is essential to retinal function. It keeps it working so you can see the best you can. The old wives tale that carrots are good for your eyes is pretty accurate! You can also get Vitamin A from sweet potatoes, squashes, bell peppers, tuna and dark leafy greens. Vitamin A needs the help of Zinc to make melanin, which is a protective pigment found all over the body, but also inside your eye. Seafood is a great source of this trace mineral, as well as lean beef or pork. For those who are not meat eaters, mushrooms, beans and spinach are great sources of zinc. (Bonus, chocolate is high in zinc too!)
Vitamin C not only keeps your immune system working properly, but it also keeps your lens healthy and clear by slowing down cataract progression. (Remember that cataracts are a normal age-related change, and you can’t avoid them completely, but a diet that is high in Vitamin C has been shown to slow that process down.) Besides the obvious citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruits, you will find tons of Vitamin C in raspberries, and pineapple even.
Vitamin E is protective against free radicals. These contribute to the overall aging process, in skin, hair, nails, and of course eyes, so if you can keep your diet full of foods high in Vitamin E, you will be slowing down some of that normal aging process. Try a serving of nuts,avocados, spinach, broccoli, shrimp or tofu to get a good dose of Vitamin E.
(Think of the smoothie recipe possibilities you could create with these delicious fruits and veggies, and pack it all in one meal. Check out this recipe, it’s one of my favorites. http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/08/18/glowing-skin-smoothie/)
As you can see, so many of the foods that we already know are good for us, really benefit our eyes too. Everything is connected, so make healthy meal and snack choices, and your eyes (as well as the rest of you), will thank you!