For many people, eating healthy is all about maintaining a trim waistline. But while it’s good to watch your weight, it’s not the only aspect of your body that benefits from a nutritious diet – your vision is also impacted by the foods you’re consuming. Studies have found that certain vitamins can help stave off ocular issues linked to age, like cataracts and macular degeneration. If you’re interested in improving your diet to boost your vision, here are five foods you should be incorporating into your meals.
If you haven’t started eating seafood, now’s the time to begin. Time and again, the health benefits of fish have been shown to greatly exceed those of other types of protein. This is largely because fish contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which reduces inflammation, and may also be influential in preventing dry eyes, cataracts and macular degeneration.
When it comes to eating for your vision, you should aim to consume cold-water fish, as they have higher levels of omega-3s. Popular choices are salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines as they all contribute to strong, healthy eyes. People who don’t like seafood, or who are allergic to it, may benefit from taking an omega-3 supplement, while vegetarians and vegans should explore supplements made from flax seed oil, which has similar properties to oil found in fish.
2. Leafy greens
Green vegetables have long been touted as superfoods for their many nutritious properties. That’s mainly because they contain zeaxanthin and lutein, two antioxidants. These nutrients have been shown to reduce the risk of cell damage, which is especially important to your ocular health. Best Health Magazine explained that consuming these vitamins is as important for your eyes as wearing sunglasses, as they help protect the retina.
The publication explained that people have pigments of lutein and zeaxanthin in the back of their eyes. Because of this, visual health is dependent on normal levels of these nutrients.
In terms of what leafy greens you should be eating, they’re all smart choices. Some of the most nutrient-packed options are spinach, collard greens, kale and romaine lettuce. Try whipping up a greens-heavy salad, or blend a handful of kale into your morning smoothie.
3. Orange fruits and vegetables
Carrots have been linked to strong vision for years, and for a very good reason. These orange veggies contain beta-Carotene, which becomes vitamin A once it’s been digested by your body. A lot of orange-hued produce also contains high levels of vitamin C, another beneficial nutrient. These vitamins have been shown to reduce the severity of cataracts and macular degeneration, and they’ve also been proven to help your vision adjust to weak lighting, explained Best Health Magazine.
Not a fan of carrots? There are plenty of other healthy and delicious fruits and vegetables that can provide you with the same benefits. Sweet potatoes and yams are excellent options, as are squash, pumpkin, apricots, peppers and cantaloupe.
4. Whole grains
While processed and refined carbohydrates can have serious consequences for your health, their whole grain counterparts can greatly improve your well-being. According to All About Vision, whole grains have a low glycemic index, which has been shown to reduce the risk for macular degeneration. Additionally, whole grains contain niacin, vitamin E and zinc, all of which can benefit your ocular health.
If you’ve been dining on white bread, rice and pasta, now’s the time to make some simple swaps that will greatly improve your health. Exchange these items for their whole grain versions, and incorporate ingredients like quinoa and oats into your recipes. When shopping for products with low glycemic indexes, be sure to read labels carefully – if it says “multi-grain” or “wheat,” it’s not necessarily a whole grain food.
Legumes contain high levels of bioflavonoids and zinc, both of which have been shown to reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration and are influential in protecting the retina. According to Best Health Magazine, zinc actually helps the liver release vitamin A, which then strengthens eye tissue. When your body is experiencing a zinc deficiency, your macula can actually begin to deteriorate, which is why you should be eating a diet that’s chock-full of this powerful mineral.
Peanuts, which are extremely popular and versatile legumes, also provide you with a healthy dose of vitamin E, a nutrient that greatly boosts ocular health. Other delicious choices include chickpeas, mung beans and lentils. Kidney beans are a very rich source of zinc, and make for a filling snack or a hearty salad topping.
Next time you’re preparing a healthy meal, consider incorporating some of these vision-boosting ingredients.
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