Because of their high beta carotene content, carrots might be the most widely recognized eye-friendly food. However, other nutrients play a role in keeping eyesight sharp. These include zinc, fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin, selenium, and vitamins E and C. All of these play different roles to help fight eye problems such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and clouding of the eye lenses (cataracts). If you’re wondering how to add these eye-friendly components to your diet, check out these food examples.
Zeaxanthin and Lutein
Dark green foods such as kale, collard greens, broccoli and spinach contain zeaxanthin and lutein. These two powerful antioxidants protect eyes from damage due to cigarette smoke, air pollution, and sunlight. Grapes and kiwis contain this nutrient as well.
As a top antioxidant, Vitamin C not only protects against eye disease, but also benefits cardiovascular and immune health. Top sources include strawberries, grapefruit, and Brussels sprouts. Eating green peppers, oranges and papayas will provide beneficial amounts of Vitamin C as well.
Vitamin E works best in conjunction with Vitamin C to keep tissue strong and healthy. Add wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, pecans, or almonds to your diet to get Vitamin E.
Omega-3 fatty acids help keep your brain in shape, but also protect eyes because they fight inflammation. Cold-water fish species like salmon, herring and sardines are high in fatty acids. Flounder, tuna, and halibut also provide omega-3.
This element with antioxidant properties helps protect the light-sensitive tissue (retina) that protects the back of the eye. Good sources for selenium include Brazil nuts, oysters, tuna, and sunflower seeds.
This mineral helps keep the retina in working order. Foods with zinc include eggs, whole grains, peanuts and turkey. Also, two oysters per day provide the recommended amount of zinc.
You already know about the carrots, but many yellow or deep orange fruits and vegetables contain high levels of beta-carotene which converts to vitamin A. This nutrient helps fight night blindness. Have a serving of pumpkin soup, one carrot, or a small sweet potato per day. If you want to change it up, have some kale, winter squash or red peppers.