Eat these 10 foods for healthy vision
Your vision is so important, yet it's something that many of us take for granted. Over 25 million people worldwide are affected by age-related macular degeneration and cataracts - in fact it's the leading cause of blindness in people over 55 (1). Want to keep your vision sharp and your eyes healthy as you age? There are foods that you should include in your diet which can help to reduce your risk of macular degeneration and protect your eye health - we've got 10 suggestions for you.
Kale, spinach, rocket and other leafy greens all have something in common (other than their green-ness of course) - they're packed with the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Studies have shown that these antioxidants can reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration as you get older. Lutein and zeaxanthin are deposited in the retina and help to filter blue light wavelengths and protect the eyes, yet our bodies can't synthesise these two antioxidants. So it's important to consume enough of them to maintain good eye health.
"Eat more oily fish," people are always telling us - and with good reason! Oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, salmon and tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids that can help promote a healthy brain and benefit your eyes too. Omega-3s can protect against cataracts, macular degeneration and dry eyes. Oily fish contain DHA, a fatty acid found in the retina - and low levels of this fatty acid could be linked to dry eye syndrome (2). Don't eat fish? You can still take fish oil supplements or a vegetarian alternative such as flaxseed oil. It's easy to add fish to your diet - just check out some of our salmon recipes.
#3. Whole grains
Did you know that eating a range of low glycemic index (GI) foods can reduce your risk of age-related macular degeneration? So cut out the white bread, pasta and refined carbs and replace them with low GI alternatives such as whole-wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, quinoa and oats. Not only will this provide protection for your eyes, it will also ensure you feel satiated and fuller for longer, as our bodies take longer to convert low GI foods into energy! Whole grain foods also contain zinc, niacin and vitamin E to promote healthy vision.
#4. Brightly coloured fruit and vegetables
The more vibrant the vegetable, the more carotenoids, vitamin A and vitamin C it contains. So select brightly coloured fruit and vegeables on your weekly shop such as peppers, strawberries and sweet potatoes. The carotenoids they contain can help reduce the risk of many eye diseases for sparkling, healthy eyes.
#5. Sunflower seeds
A tasty, healthy snack packed with zinc and vitamin E (also great for smooth, clear skin), sunflower seeds can help boost eye health, and they taste delicious on their own or as part of a seed mix with pumpkin seeds.
#6. Lean beef
Fancy a home-made burger? Enjoyed in moderation, beef can help to protect your eyes. It's a source of zinc, which aids the absorption of vitamin A in the body, promoting healthy vision.
#7. Citrus fruits and berries
Next time you're picking up fresh produce, choose berries, oranges, lemons and grapefruits - all are excellent sources of vitamin C, which can help protect against cataracts and macular degeneration.
A handful of nuts is a high-protein, heart-healthy snack that's ideal at any time of day - plus there are loads of different varieties of nuts to choose from! The vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids found in nuts are not only great for heart health, they can also protect your eyesight! Choose almonds, walnuts, pistachios or a mixture of your favourite nuts to enjoy the benefts.
Adding some lentils to your salad, black eyed beans to that Mexican tortilla or kidney beans to your chilli is a great idea. Why? Well, they all contain high levels of bioflavonoids and zinc, which can help provide protection for the retina, reducing the risk of macular degeneration in old age. Plus, they taste pretty good, are packed with protein and fill you up too!
"Carrots will help you see in the dark," your granny probably used to tell you as a child. Whilst that's not strictly true, the beta-carotene in carrots is converted into vitamin A, which can protect eye health and could help you see in low-light conditions. Carrots can be enjoyed raw, dipped into hummus, grated in salads or rostis, blended into soup or cooked in stews and casseroles - the choice is yours!
As well as eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, it's important to have regular eye health and eyesight checks, particularly as you get older. You should have your eyesight check on an annual basis, and if you wear contact lenses, you'll also need regular checks to ensure your eyes are healthy. You only get one pair of eyes, so take care of yours - avoid harsh, chemical-laden facial products and cosmetics, prevent eye strain by taking regular breaks when working at your computer all day and get plenty of sleep; your eyes will thank you for it!
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