Want to keep your eyes healthy and your vision sharp as you age? Nutrition plays a key role in preventing eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and dry eye syndrome. Research points in particular to foods containing vitamins A, C, D, and E, the mineral zinc, nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin, and omega-3 essential fatty acids as protecting against the kinds of eye problems people face later in life. So when you’re planning your menus, be sure to incorporate some of these foods:
- Look for fruit that’s rich in vitamin C—an antioxidant that can help prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Good choices are
- Berries: Strawberries and blueberries are tops in antioxidant content and vitamin C.
- Citrus: Oranges and grapefruit are packed with vitamin C. Oranges also contain lutein and zeaxanthin.
- And more: Other fruit cited by the Mayo Clinic for eye health are peaches, tangerines, mango, tomato, apricot, papaya, cantaloupe, honeydew, and avocado.
- Dark green, leafy vegetables are tops for eye protection, but don’t limit yourself. Other vegetables are good for your sight as well. Try the following:
- Greens: Eat one cup of kale or spinach and you’re consuming 20-plus milligrams of lutein and zeaxanthin. Other eye-smart green veggies are collard and turnip greens, broccoli, peas, green beans, and romaine lettuce.
- Orange: Beta carotene, found in deep orange vegetables, is converted to vitamin A in the body. Both beta carotene and vitamin A contribute to eye health, helping to protect against night blindness and dry eyes. Good sources are sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, and pumpkin.
- And more: Mix up your colors with cauliflower and red peppers, both good sources of vitamin C. Yellow squash contains lutein and zeaxanthin.
Land & Sea
Pescetarians and carnivores should note that some animal products provide eye health benefits. They include
- Meat: You’ll get a good dose of zinc if you eat lean beef and poultry legs and thighs (dark meat).
- Seafood: Alaskan king crab is a good source of zinc. Fish such as salmon, herring, tuna, mackerel, rainbow trout, and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids. Sardines and mackerel provide vitamin D as well.
- And more: Boost your vitamin A intake with milk and eggs.
Field & Forest
- Nuts, whole grains, and seeds all contain nutrients that can slow the progression of eye conditions. Good choices are
- Nuts: Almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts are good sources of vitamin E, and walnuts provide omega-3 essential fatty acids.
- Seeds: Sunflower seeds are packed with vitamin E. Flaxseed is rich in omega 3s. Pumpkin seeds provide zinc.
- Grains: You’ll find zinc in fortified breakfast cereals, whole-wheat and buckwheat flours, and bulgur.
“5 Top Foods for Eye Health,” Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, www.EatRight.org, 4/3/17 • “13 Foods That Do Your Eyes Good” by Laura McMullen, US News and World Report, http://health.USNews.com, 3/12/13 • “Blueberries: Nutritious Things Come in Small Packages” by Chloe Thompson, www.WebMD.com • “Diet and Nutrition,” American Academic of Ophthalmology, www.aao.org, 5/24/13 • “Eating for Eye Health” by Jennifer K. Nelson, Mayo Clinic Nutrition-wise blog, www.MayoClinic.org, 6/18/14 • “Strawberries: Health Benefits, Nutritional Breakdown” by Megan Ware, www.MedicalNewsToday.com, 7/4/16