While you were growing up, your mother told you to eat your vegetables, and it was good advice. While most of us understand that eating healthy foods has an impact on our waistlines, we often forget that our diet also is tied to our vision. A healthy diet will help preserve your vision for the future, and in some cases may help slow disease in the eyes.

    The American Optometric Association and American Academy of Ophthalmology have put together a list of superfoods for eye health, which we have compiled for you here. Eating a mix of these foods on a daily basis will help to ensure that you pack your diet with essential nutrients for healthy eyes including lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamins C and E, beta carotene, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc.

    You may notice that many of these foods are mostly green or mostly orange. Beyond the foods presented here, look for fruits and vegetables with deeply colored flesh, and aim to eat several different colors of fruits and vegetables every day. The variety in colors, textures, and flavors will keep your diet interesting and will encourage you and those around you to continue to make healthy dietary choices.


    Broccoli, peas, Brussels sprouts, kale, and green beans are all packed with lutein, zeaxanthin, beta carotene, and fiber. These are powerhouse foods for your eyes and your overall health. If these particular veggies don’t please your palate, almost any dark, leafy green vegetable will also contain high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein is an essential nutrient in preventing the development in cataracts, and in one study was shown to reduce the risk of developing cataracts by up to 23 percent. Lutein and zeaxanthin have also been shown to reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.


    Deep orange foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin are high in beta carotene, while oranges, grapefruit, apricots, cantaloupe, and tangerines are all high in vitamins C. These nutrients work together to prevent, or at least delay, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Additional foods high in vitamin C or beta carotene include deep red foods such as strawberries, tomatoes, and red peppers.


    Other sources of nutrients essential for eye health include cold water varieties of fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, and halibut), which are high in omega-3 fatty acids. In 2010, researchers at Johns Hopkins found that those with diets high in omega-3 fatty acids were far less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration.

    In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, zinc is essential for eye health as it helps to protect against sun damage. Foods high in zinc include all kinds of beans, peanuts, oysters, lean red meats, poultry, and fortified cereals.

    Please keep in mind that everyone’s health needs are different. Before radically changing your diet, discuss your eyecare needs and concerns with your Silverstein Eye Centers physician to be sure that the dietary changes you are considering are ideal for your condition, particularly if you are diabetic, smoke, or have macular degeneration. To learn more about how to protect your vision, call Silverstein Eye Centers today at 816-358-3600.

    Posted February 4, 2014 by Silverstein Eye Centers
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