Eating for Optimal Eye Health

A healthy diet is essential for vision health, but 87 percent of Americans fall short of their daily requirements of vegetables and 76 percent are not eating their recommended amounts of fruits. Are you properly nurturing your eyes? Here are some of the best foods to eat for optimal eye health.

Leafy greens are some of the best sources antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin. Research shows that eating foods high in these two antioxidants can decrease your risk of developing macular degeneration. Lutein, stored in the macular pigment, helps protect your central vision, and zeaxanthin is also found in the retina. Load your plate with spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts to maintain healthy eyesight.

Eggs also pack a powerful nutritional punch, offering lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as healthy fats and proteins. They also contain carotenoids that are highly absorbable. One study found that adding a few eggs to your salad can increase the carotenoid absorption as much as nine-fold. Eggs are truly a perfect food and versatile for any meal of the day. Whether you enjoy your egg scrambled in the morning or hardboiled and sliced on a lunch salad, the egg is probably the oldest and most beloved comfort food.

Bell peppers are a popular vegetable, but a 1998 study revealed that not all peppers are created nutritionally equal. The orange pepper contained the highest amount of zeaxanthins among the 33 fruits and vegetables that were tested.

Citrus fruits and berries provide high amounts of vitamin C, so try adding grapefruit to your morning breakfast or making a colorful fruit salad for lunch. Summer is the perfect season to add more berries and citrus fruits to your diet because they are in season. Eating fruit and berries that are in season means that they will contain higher levels of nutrients, especially if you purchase them locally when they have been recently harvested. Boosting your vitamin C levels lowers your risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts, so put citrus and berries at the top of your grocery list.

Not everyone enjoys eating nuts, but you may want to develop a taste for almonds and walnuts. Almonds contain high amounts of vitamin E, which helps delay macular degeneration. One handful, about an ounce, provides half of a daily dose of vitamin E. Walnuts contain several unique antioxidants that are not found in other commonly eaten foods. Many researchers believe that walnuts are the most beneficial of all nuts because of the potency of their vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, anchovies, and trout are rich in DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in the retina. DHA provides structural support to cell membranes that protect the retina. Eating a diet that is rich in DHA and animal-based omega-3 fats can significantly lower your risk for advanced macular degeneration and dry eye (Source: Mercola).


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