You have likely heard of degenerative diseases such as cataracts, keratoconus and macular degeneration. For preventative measures, I am sure you know salmon is good for your heart and oatmeal for your cholesterol, but did you know that certain foods (other than carrots) can also improve your eye health? According to a studyby the National Eye Institute, foods high in antioxidants such as omega-3 fatty acids, glutathione, zinc and vitamins C and E may reduce the risk of certain diseases.
Here are 7 healthy foods that healthy eyes crave:
- Seafood: Fish contains some of the highest levels of quality omega-3 essential fatty acids, in addition to being very tasty! Including omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can support proper visual development and retinal function over time. If you don’t like the taste of fish, raw almonds are a great alternative to incorporate omega-3s into your diet.
- Orange and Grapefruit Juice: In addition to fighting immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems and skin wrinkling, Vitamin C has been shown to help lower the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. One cup of orange juice packs 124 milligrams of vitamin C and grapefruit juice has 94 milligrams.
- Eggs: If there is one universal nutritional factor for eye health, it’s glutathione — a natural antioxidant. Glutathione has been shown to help prevent cataracts, glaucoma, retinal disease and diabetic blindness. Eggs are a great natural source, but if you can’t stomach them, look to get your Glutathione from vitamins.
- Oysters: Oysters, poultry, milk, shellfish, baked beans and whole grains are great sources of zinc. Lack of zinc can lead to cataracts or night vision, a condition associated with blurred vision, halos and night blindness.
- Kale: This leafy vegetable is one of the healthiest foods for your body, including your eyes. Kale has high levels of Vitamin E, which can protect your eyes from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules which break down healthy tissue in the body. Kale is easy to add to smoothies for a nutritional boost or can be used as a side salad with any meal! My kids love “kale chips,” which my wife and I make by lightly baking them in the oven.
- Pork: An often overlooked yet equally important nutrient for your eye health is zinc. Pork meat has high levels of zinc, which plays a key role in bringing Vitamin A from the liver to the retina in order to produce melanin — a protective pigment in the eyes. If you do not eat pork or are a vegetarian, chicken and cashews are excellent alternatives. Now you have a good excuse to indulge in BBQ ribs!
- Camu camu: This Brazilian superfruit is a newcomer to the American market, and it packs the highest vitamin C content of any fruit on the planet. Vitamin C plays a key role in lowering your risk for developing cataracts and can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration while protecting against visual acuity loss.