We only get one pair of eyes, so it’s important to take good care of them. New research shows what you eat can affect your vision as you age. Add these seven foods into your diet to boost your eye health. By: Julie Upton, MS, RD
The eyes are vascular, so a heart-healthy diet that’s low in trans and saturated fat is important to keep the blood vessels
of the eyes healthy. Foods rich in antioxidants are also known to help protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration
(ARMD), which is the leading cause of blindness among older Americans; as well as cataracts and other eye-related conditions.
In the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), subjects who supplemented their diet with Vitamin C, antioxidants, zinc, beta-carotene,
and vitamin E experienced about a 25% reduction in risk of developing serious ARMD.
Here are seven foods help you see clearly.
View Recipe: Fennel and Spinach Salad with Shrimp and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Tomatoes are packed with carotenoids, including lycopene, which helps give tomatoes their vibrant red color. Research shows
that the lycopene present in ocular tissues helps prevent light-induced damage to the retina and other areas of the eye.
Tomatoes are also an excellent source of vitamin C, another vision protector. Processed tomato products or fresh tomatoes eaten with a little olive oil will help boost the absorption of lycopene. Researchers say eating foods rich in antioxidants is better than taking supplements.
See More: Fresh Tomato Recipes
Spinach and other dark, leafy greens are rich in two antioxidants stored in the macula—lutein and zeaxanthin. The macula
is a part of the retina that acts as a natural sunblock, shielding the eye from damaging light. Lutein and zeaxanthin absorb
blue light, which is especially harmful to the retina. These nutrients can also help the eye detect contrast better, so eating
foods rich in these antioxidants not only improves vision, but they help maintain your vision long-term. Since lutein and
zeaxanthin are fat soluble, eating your greens with olive oil will help ensure that you absorb more of them.
View Recipe: Spinach with Garlic Vinaigrette
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Like spinach and other leafy greens, egg yolks are also a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin. In one study, researchers
found that lutein levels increased by 26%, while zeaxanthin levels increased by 38% when subjects ate one egg per day. They
also found that eating an egg-a-day did not impact LDL or HDL cholesterol or triglycerides. Specialty eggs are also available
that have significantly more lutein per egg, due to simply feeding hens more carotenoid-rich feed. Egg yolks are also a natural
source of vitamin D, which may reduce the risk for ARMD.
See More: 8 Reasons to Love Eggs
Salmon is one of the best sources of eye-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the risk of ARMD and
help treat dry eye disease. An Ophthalmology study reported that high dietary intakes of omega-3 fatty acids resulted in
a 38% reduction in the risk for ARMD. Salmon is also a natural source of vitamin D, which may also prove to have eye health
See More: Best Salmon Recipes
A diet that is low in trans and saturated fat helps prevent retina diseases. Several studies suggest that a Mediterranean-style
diet (fish, plant-based foods, and healthy fats) is recommended for healthy vision. Not only is olive oil free of trans fats
and is low in saturated fat, Australian researchers found that subjects who reported consuming the most olive oil were 48%
less likely to develop ARMD. When buying olive oil, look for extra virgin for the additional antioxidant boost it provides.
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Yellow corn is great source of lutein and zeaxanthin and ½ cup of cooked corn has 1.8 grams of beneficial pigments combined
per serving. These naturally occurring yellow pigments are lost during ARMD, but research shows that older adults who boost
their blood levels of lutein and zeaxanthin through eating foods like corn and other carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables
significantly reduced their risk of losing these pigments. One study even found that women who ate the most fruits and vegetables,
including yellow corn, reduced their risk of developing cataracts. To boost the absorption of the eye-friendly pigments in
corn, be sure to enjoy corn as part of a meal that provides some dietary fat like olive oil, walnuts, or salmon.
See More: Cooking with Corn
As the only nut to contain any significant amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, pistachios are the eye-friendliest of snack nuts.
They provide lutein and zeaxanthin and also pack in significant amounts of vitamin E. The mono and polyunsaturated fats in
pistachios also help boost the absorption of carotenoids. In fact, a study found that those who added pistachios to their
diet significantly boosted levels of lutein.
See More: Healthy Nuts: An A-Z Guide