I think most people feel that eye health is a health concern that is just “out of your hands” and that you either have good vision or you don’t. While some people are born with with poor vision, most of us develop vision problems later in life. You can take certain steps to protect your eye health early on as a preventative measure to keep your vision as healthy as possible!
Common vision issues among any age include nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. As we get older, age related diseases such as macular degeneration, cataract, glaucoma, and dry eyes are also common.
A big component of keeping eyes and vision healthy is a healthy diet rich with nutrients that are important for eye health. Some of the top vitamins and minerals for vision include vitamin A (yes your mom was right, carrots are important for your eyes!), vitamin C, Vitamin E, and zinc. Other important nutrients include lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega 3 fatty acids.
The following foods are the top foods for improved eye health and vision. They contain the above nutrients that are critical for eye health. All of these foods are common foods found at your local grocery store. There are no crazy, unattainable superfoods on this list. Just good, wholesome produce that you can include in your diet on a daily basis!
It’s not just a myth! Carrots are excellent for eye health because they contain vitamin A, one of the most important nutrients for eye health. Vitamin A often gives foods an orange pigment. Other foods with very similar nutrient profiles include sweet potatoes and butternut squash, and these are also wonderful for vision health!
Carrots are excellent both raw and cooked. Add them to salads and soups, eat them with dips like hummus, and so much more! Since carrots have a mild sweet flavour to them, they’re a great food to feed to kids and picky eaters for their eye health!
Avocados are excellent for eye health because they contain two very important nutrients for eyes which are lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients are carotenoids, meaning they’re in the vitamin A family. Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in high concentrations in the eye, so eating foods with these nutrients is very supportive of eye health
Avocados also contain vitamin C and vitamin E! Avocados are truly a superfood for the eyes. There are so many ways you can incorporate avocados into your diet. You can add it to smoothies, make avocado toast, chocolate avocado pudding, guacamole, and so much more! I almost always have a few avocados in my fridge ready to eat at any time because they are so nutritious and delicious!
Eggs have similar nutrients to avocados. Eggs contain high levels of almost all of the important nutrients that I mentioned for eye health including:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Omega 3
Zinc is an important trace mineral for many different chemical processes in the body. Zinc is critical for eye health. We always talk about eating vitamin A for the eyes, but zinc actually helps to bring vitamin a from the liver to the retina in order to produce melanin, which is a protective pigment in the eyes.
There are a bounty of ways that you can eat eggs. They’re not just for breakfast! You can add eggs to sandwiches for lunch, pack hard boiled eggs for an on-the-go meal, or incorporate them into your dinner! Some unconventional, yet delicious ways to include eggs in your dinners include adding them to Asian cuisine such as in ramen soup, adding them to grain bowls, salads, and so much more.
4. Nuts & Seeds
Many nuts and seeds have high levels of omega 3 and vitamin E, which are both critical for eye health. Some excellent options to include in your diet are:
- Brazil nuts
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Hemp seeds
Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of essential fatty acids, especially for those who are vegan and vegetarian. You can eat nuts and seeds in a variety of ways including in trail mix, smoothies, salads, desserts, granola bars, and so much more. The possibilities are seriously endless!
5. Bell Peppers
Did you know that bell peppers actually have more vitamin C than oranges? While oranges are excellent sources of vitamin C, some foods such as bell peppers contain even higher levels. 1 cup of bell peppers contain nearly 3 times the amount of vitamin C found in one orange!
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is very protective for the eyes. In fact, vitamin C is found in collagen in the cornea of the eye. You can include bell peppers in your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Peppers are wonderful in omelets and scrambled eggs, and they’re great for dipping into hummus and other dips.
6. Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy veggies contain a wide variety of the nutrients that were mentioned above including lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C. With all of the talk of green leafy veggies being good for almost everything, it’s no surprise that they’re also good for your eyes!
You probably know that you can add greens to almost any meal. If you don’t like the flavor of greens, try adding them to fruit smoothies! Spinach is especially good to add to smoothies because it has almost no flavor.
Variety Is The Spice Of Life!
Remember that any healthy diet includes a variety of healthy whole foods. If you can include a variety of the foods mentioned above, as well as whole grains and other fruits and vegetables, you can ensure you’re doing your part to fuel your body with nutrients to protect your eyes and vision!