There may be something in the old saying ‘you are what you eat’. Research shows certain foods are good for your eyes and eating a healthy, well balanced diet can help to protect your eyes as you get older.
Taking care with your diet can help prevent or manage health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. Complications from these conditions can cause serious and irreversible damage to your eyesight.
Studies show foods that are rich in zinc, copper, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin could reduce the risk of eyesight deterioration as we get older by as much as 25 per cent.
While some of these nutrients sound unusual, they’re found in everyday foods that can be picked up from your local shops.
While the old story that eating carrots helps you see at night isn’t entirely true, the humble carrot can help to keep your eyesight healthy. Carrots are packed with beta carotene and lutein; antioxidants which can help prevent age related eye damage and diseases.
Our bodies convert lutein into vitamin A. If we have a deficiency in vitamin A, our ability to see at night may be affected. Eating carrots or taking a supplement may restore your night vision. However, if you don’t have a deficiency, eating carrots won’t help your night vision.
Capsicum is packed with vitamin A, C and E. Studies have shown the antioxidant properties of vitamin C and E can reduce the risk of developing cataracts later in life. Vitamin C can also keep the blood vessels in your eyes healthy. It’s best to eat capsicum raw as vitamin C is sensitive to heat and can be destroyed when cooked. If capsicum’s not your cup of tea, citrus fruit is also a great source of vitamin C.
Dark leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach are high in lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamin C. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids (pigments responsible for the bright colours in fruit and vegetables) which are found in the eye. Researchers believe eating plenty of leafy green vegetables regularly could improve your eyesight and help protect against age related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Oily fish like salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which scientists believe has a protective effect against vision loss. If you’re a vegetarian; nuts, legumes and seeds are also great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Zinc is an important mineral found in beef which is linked to improved eye health. Zinc helps the body absorb vitamin A, which may delay the onset of age-related eye conditions like macular degeneration.
Eggs are a great food for eye health. Just like leafy green vegetables, they’re a great source of lutein, zeaxanthin which are linked to improved eyesight and a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration. They’re also packed with other nutrients which promote eye health like vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc.