We’ve heard that there are certain foods you can eat to get healthier looking hair, stronger bones and to prevent diseases. But there are also foods and nutrients that many doctors recommend to help keep our eyes healthy for many, many years.
The eye is a highly complex organ made up of lipids, or fatty tissue. As light enters our eyes and breaks down into free radicals, these free radicals cause major damage to our eye’s lipids. These free radicals cause the degenerative effects of aging and eventually the loss of vision over time. Two of the major effects that these free radicals cause are macular degeneration and cataracts.
According to MSNBC more than 13 million people in the U.S. suffer from macular degeneration, and about half of all Americans over the age of 80 have cataracts.
Luckily, free radicals can be neutralized by antioxidants because they help to slow down the damage done and wash the free radicals out of the body completely. More specifically, a research project conducted by the National Eye Institute has shown that the most important foods for preventing macular degeneration and cataracts are ones that are rich in the antioxidants beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein and zeaxanthin, zinc and omega-3 fats.
To get your share of antioxidants, doctors suggest eating your vegetables. Fresh fruits and green, leafy vegetables are chock full of antioxidants. Here is a list of specific foods from MSNBC that you can eat to ensure that you’re keeping your eyes healthy for years to come:
Carrots- Carrots are loaded with beta carotene, an antioxidant that helps reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
Bell peppers, broccoli and Brussels sprouts- Three B’s that provide a blast of vitamin C. Vitamin C is another key antioxidant shown specifically to protect the eyes.
Turkey- Turkey is also rich in zinc (plus the B-vitamin niacin, which specifically protects against cataracts). What’s more, turkey is incredibly versatile and a terrific lean substitute for high-fat beef.
Sweet potatoes- Beta carotene is found in sweet potatoes thanks to the bright-orange flesh in these sweet spuds.
Spinach- Spinach provides four eye-protecting ingredients! It comes packaged with vitamin C, beta carotene and large amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin … a matched pair of antioxidants found in high concentrations in the tissue of the macula. Because they absorb 40 to 90 percent of blue light intensity, these nutrients act like sunscreen for your eyes. Studies have shown that eating foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin can increase the pigment density in the macula — and greater pigment density means better retina protection, and a lower risk of macular degeneration.
Wild salmon and sardines- There are a lot of Omega-3 fats in fish that help your eyes by protecting tiny blood vessels buried within the eyes. Aim for two to three 4-ouce portions a week.
Keep an eye on sugar intake- Monitoring your sugar intake is also important in maintaining healthy eyes, as refined carbohydrates can spike your glucose levels, increasing your chances of acquiring macular degeneration.
Just by keeping these tips in mind and being cautious about what you eat, your eyes will be healthy well into your older years and your vision will only improve over time.