Much akin to building a great sports/professional team, eating the right nutrients in a balanced manner is necessary to attain victory in your fight against eye diseases. In a professional team, it is necessary to have people with different skills, who not only complement each other but also work together to create a balanced approach and get the best results. One top-notch player may not be enough to secure the championship. In the same way, having some balanced, healthy diet rich in nutrients must be your prime priority to prevent an onslaught of eye problems. Many eye-related diseases are often a result of oxidation and inflammation of the eyes. However, consuming certain foods rich in nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin can reduce the risk of oxidation/inflammation and prevent the peril of chronic eye diseases.
Below are 10 superfoods that can go a long way in improving your eyesight
- Carrots– Carrots are one of the best foods to ensure better vision. Being rich in Vitamin A and beta-carotene, they help the eye convert light into signals that can be transmitted to the brain. In fact, the U.K. Ministry of food also states that eating carrots helped U.K win World War II against Germany. Lack of enough vitamin A in your body can cause your cornea to disappear and cause blindness.
- Leafy vegetables (spinach/kale/collard greens)- Leafy green vegetables are generally rich in powerful antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin which play a major role n protecting retinal damage. Research has shown that green, leafy vegetables like spinach, collard greens or kale can help the eyes filter high-energy wavelengths of light that have the potential to damage the retina. Apart from the numerous health benefits, leafy vegetables also prevent age-related macular degeneration (a leading cause of blindness in the aged people). Kale is rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants, beta-carotene and vitamins and can be used in a salad or as a side dish. Other healthy choices also comprise of Swiss Chards, Brussels Sprouts etc.
- Non-meat protein sources (beans/nuts/eggs)- Non-meat protein sources are a major source of nutrients like zinc and vitamins D and E. These three nutrients are essentially required by the human body and can improve your vision to a great extent. Eggs also omega 3s and lutein in addition to a number of other rich nutrients. It is recommended that non-meat protein sources be consumed on daily basis to avoid any eye diseases.
- Tomatoes– Adding tomatoes to your daily dietary intake can boost eye-health to a great extent. Tomatoes are a good source of antioxidants like lycopene and lutein which protects your eye tissues from free radical damage by neutralizing free radicals before they oxidize and harm eye cells. They also provide a rich source of vitamin A and C and copper that helps in the production of melanin (black pigment in the eye).
- Citrus-rich fruits (oranges/grapes etc.)- As we all know; citrus rich fruits are a great source of Vitamin C- an antioxidant highly effective in treating cataracts and macular degeneration. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin that helps the body form connective tissues such as collagen generally found in the cornea of your eyes. Although a prescribed dietary intake of 90 mg per day (75 mg for women) is required, being water soluble, you can consume more citric fruits too. Further, oranges and other similar fruits also provide a stable source for bioflavonoids (vitamin P) which are useful in countering allergic and inflammatory reactions.
- Broccoli– Sulforaphane (a cancer-fighting compound) found in broccoli has remarkable benefits in protecting retinal cells. The fibre-rich vegetable contains beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamin A and C. Not only is it rich in fiber and low in calories, broccoli has been found to be significantly beneficial in exerting anticancer activity. A daily intake of 5 grams per cup of cooked broccoli is recommended.
- Corn– Corn belongs to the family of low foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin found in the macular of the eye. With aging and poor nutrition, the production of these nutrients in the eye can be depleted, resulting in diseases like cataract and macular degeneration. Incorporating corn in your dietary intake can be one of the best ways to prevent the side-effects of aging on your eyesight.
- Sweet potatoes and yam– Both sweet potatoes and yam are a healthy source of antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals including vitamin A and C, iron and folate. These nutrients can help in strengthening the immune system and prevent cancerous growth.
- Olive Oil– Recent studies have shown that lutein can be extracted from olive oil which decreases chances of macular degeneration and actively maintains eye health. In fact, olive oil is known to have other benefits which are great for overall health. A regular intake is therefore recommended.
- Avocados- The health benefits of Avocados are not new. However, for your eyesight, avocados are also instrumental in increasing the absorption of carotenoids. It can lower the risk of age-related eye-dysfunction caused by low levels of lutein and zeaxanthin. Avocados contain a combination of monosaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and contribute a lot to healthy eyesight.
It is necessary to know that various nutrients interact with each other to maintain a healthy pair of eyes.A Balance intake of above mentioned super-foods is therefore essential in your fight against eye diseases. In fact, these foods and their nutrition is for everyone, including those with good health and no eye problems. Even if you’re not thinking about prevention right now, nutrition can help you improve your ability to see. It’s time to get to eating these super-foods for better and healthy eyes!
Dr. Babak Shabatian, MD, is an ophthalmologist and founder and director of Cali Eye and Laser Institute. He has performed thousands of procedures with excellent and predictable results. He is frequently invited to lecture on topics of refractive and advance cataract surgery.