By Christelle Abi Rached
While most people rely on Bugs Bunny’s old carrot trick to protect their eyes, only few are aware of the role that nutrition plays in vision health.
When talking about an eye-friendly diet; it is important to note that good nutrition conveys a preventive role rather than a corrective one. In other words, eating right won’t improve your visual acuity if you have less than perfect vision; but it will reduce the risk of certain eye diseases, including macular degeneration and cataract formation, which are the leading causes of vision impairment and blindness.
Lutein & Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants mainly found in fruits and vegetables and the only carotenoids located in the eye. Food sources include green leafy vegetables, orange pepper, kiwi, grapes as well as other foods, such as eggs and corn. Many studies have shown that lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts and protect the eyes from sun damage.
- Snack on popcorn or corn on the cob seasoned with spices you enjoy
- Add layers of spinach to your next lasagna recipe
- Have at least one cup of green leafy vegetable every dayVitamin CThere is no surprise in calling it the “C” vitamin being one of the most essential nutrients for vision. Scientific evidence suggests vitamin C lowers the risk of developing cataracts, and when taken in combination with other essential nutrients, can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and visual acuity loss. Most fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin C, including oranges, grapefruit, strawberries and papaya, as well as green peppers and tomatoes.
- Eat fruits and veggies raw when possible because heat destroys some of this precious vitamin
- Have at least two servings of fruit every day; add them to salads for a change
- Use raw broccoli and sweet peppers as a side dish more often
In addition to offering gorgeous skin, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and an essential player when it comes to eye health. It is thought to protect cells of the eyes from damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals which break down healthy tissue. Being found in very small quantities in food, getting enough vitamin E might be a bit challenging. Considerable food sources include vegetable oils, almonds, pecans peanuts and peanut butter, wheat germ and sunflower seeds.
- Make a habit of adding sunflower seeds or flaxseeds to green salads
- Mix peanut butter and fortified cereals for a healthy eye-friendly snack
- Enhance your morning cereals nutrient content with a shot of almonds or pecans
Zinc is an essential trace mineral or ‘helper molecule.’ It plays a vital role in bringing vitamin A from the liver to the retina in order to produce melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes. Zinc is found in a wide variety of foods but oysters remain by far the best source of zinc. Other food sources include: Red meat, poultry, seafood such as crab and lobsters, and fortified breakfast cereals.
- Have seafood such as oysters, lobsters or crab at least once a week
- Add grilled chicken to a salad made of chickpeas and green beans
- Include more dairies: eat low yogurt for breakfast, have a slice of cheese or drink a low fat latte
More tips for your eye health:
– Always use sunglasses when you are in direct sunlight and avoid looking straight to the sun
– When using the computer for long do the 20 exercise: every 20 minutes look 20 feet away for 20 seconds
– Clean your contact lenses regularly and avoid wearing them more than recommended
– Stop smoking