Unfortunately, many of us suffer from blurry vision, dry eyes, and annoying infections. In most cases, as a direct result of these problems, we turn to the ophthalmologist for a medical solution, but a 2013 study suggests that many well-known nutritional supplements can benefit eye health and protect them from various irritable diseases. However, although most nutritional supplements, namely, vitamin C, vitamin A, omega-3 and more can be consumed as supplements, they can also be found in many different foods! We invite you to dive into the next article and find out what elements are important for your eye health and what foods you can find them in.
Vitamin A is one of the most important substances for maintaining eye health and is notable, among other things, for its ability to keep our eyes lubricated, when lack of lubrication can lead to dry eyes and difficulty in vision in dark or dim lighting. Vitamin A can come from animals or plants and is found mainly in vegetables and fruits containing beta-carotene, a component that is transformed in the body into this vitamin. The recommended daily intake of beta-carotene is 15 mg, which can be found in the following sources:
Carrots – Most of us know that eating carrots contributes to improving vision and what makes it so beneficial is the beta-carotene that it contains.
Sweet potato – One of the most versatile root vegetables with more than 200 different varieties, all of which have a significant amount of beta-carotene.
Spinach – Spinach is effective for eye health due to the beta-carotene it contains, and eating it can prevent retinal infections and diseases that cause blindness.
Other good sources of carotene are apricot, melon, persimmon, mango, cabbage, broccoli, beef liver, chicken liver, fish oil, butter, eggs and more.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help prevent damage to various parts of the eye and the rest of the body caused by free radicals and unstable molecules. As we age, the effects of free radicals can lead to the development of severe eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts at a high probability. Therefore, antioxidants are very important for eye health because they can “eliminate” free radicals preventing them from harming your eyes. It is important to know that vitamin C is destroyed in heat, which is why it’s recommended to eat the vegetables and fruits that contain it raw. The recommended daily intake of vitamin C is 75-90 mg and can be found in the following sources:
Red /Yellow Pepper – Vitamin C exists in high amounts in these sweet peppers, with a constant consumption of which will reduce the risk of severe eye diseases.
Strawberries – Strawberries are abundant in vitamin C, which is necessary for preventing the onset of eye problems.
Guava – Vitamin C, found in guava, contributes to the health of the capillaries and maintains the function of retinal cells. Therefore, regular consumption of the fruit will help ensure proper functioning of the eyes.
Other good sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits, kiwi, papaya, tomatoes, green vegetables, liver, broccoli, sweet potato, avocado and more.
Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 3 is a generic name given to a group of unsaturated fatty acids, whose consumption has many positive health effects and is therefore considered a common dietary supplement. A study conducted in 2005 shows that omega-3, either from fish or vegetables, has many advantages in maintaining eye health, as well as a key role in the development of infant and child vision. In adults, omega-3 rich diets are associated with eye diseases and macular degeneration, as well as dry eye syndrome – a condition that affects tear production. A combination of fish-based and plant-based omega-3 fatty acids creates a strengthening effect, reducing the inflammation process and restoring the tear glands. The recommended daily intake of Omega 3 is 1.6 grams for a man and 1.1 grams per woman, and can be found in the following sources:
Walnuts – Walnuts are an excellent source of plant-based omega-3, when consumed in moderation – a handful of nuts as a snack or a measured addition to a salad.
Tehina – Tehina is an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids and it is recommended to combine 1-2 tablespoons of raw tehina one way or another in at least one meal a day.
Fish – Many fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including salmon, red tuna, herring, anchovies, and sardines.
Other good sources of Omega 3 are flaxseed oil, mackerel, canola oil, bream, chia seeds and more.
Lutein and zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are two carotenoids stored in the eyes and brain and help protect the eyes from oxidative stress – a condition in which the body can’t cope with the number of free radicals that attack it. So, these two carotenoids are two of the eyes’ best friends, helping to protect them from screen exhaustion. In fact, they are yellow-orange pigments that act as strong and effective antioxidants, and what distinguishes them from the rest is their high concentration in the eyes, especially in the retina where they secrete a kind of “protective net.” They filter out the blue light emanating from different screens and perform an action similar to wearing sunglasses – protecting the eyes from radiation damage. The recommended daily intake is 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin which can be found in the following sources:
Zucchini – Daily consumption of zucchini significantly reduces the risk of developing muscular dystrophy, which can cause blindness.
Brussels sprouts – Brussels sprouts contain zeaxanthin belonging to the family of carotenoids absorbed into the retina, where it acts as an antioxidant and prevents damage by the sun’s rays while preventing early degeneration of the retina.
Broccoli – Broccoli is a good source of lutein, which, as you understand, is essential for eye health. The greener and darker the broccoli is, the higher the lutein content.
Other foods containing lutein and zeaxanthin are green leafy vegetables, egg yolks, corn, peas, melon, orange, mango, papaya, white cabbage, lettuce, pumpkin, tomato and more. It is recommended to take consume the foods containing these important carotenoids with a small amount of fat to help the body absorb them better.
What Foods Should You Avoid?
Foods high in fat and cholesterol – The eyes have small capillaries and blood vessels which are very important in keeping them clean, making sure that blood and oxygen flow are undisrupted. People with high cholesterol are at greater risk for retinal degeneration, so avoid eating foods that are high in saturated fat and eat more fruits and vegetables.
Foods high in salt – Salt is sodium, and high levels of it in the body can lead to high blood pressure which can interfere with blood flow to the eyes. Blood flow is vital and very important for nourishing and cleaning the eyes along with removing the waste from them – improper blood supply to the eye may damage the retina and optic nerve.
High Glycemic Foods – People with a high glycemic index are at higher risk for retinal degeneration, with the glycemic index of foods determined by the amount and speed of blood glucose uptake and the amount of insulin the body secretes in response.
A few closing words
After reading this article and understanding what substances can keep your eyes healthy, you should remember that in the end, the keywords are fruits, vegetables, fish rich in omega-3, plant-based omega-3 and foods with a low glycemic index. We are confident that now you’ll adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes 3 to 5 vegetables a day, 2-4 fruits a day, fish-based omega-3 twice a week, legumes, nuts, and more.