Eating the right foods can protect your vision and keep you healthy. Adding vitamins, antioxidants and minerals to your diet can improve your overall eye health. Researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc, to reducing the risk of certain eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.1 You can find these antioxidants in green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and a lot of other foods.
Here are the top 10 foods that will boost your eye health.1, 2
The hype is true, carrots are good for your eyes. These crunchy root vegetables are a great source of vitamin A, which is important for keeping your cornea clear. Carrots get their bright orange colour from beta carotene, which is essential for vitamin A production in the body. Other foods rich in beta carotene include sweet potatoes, pumpkin, capsicum, mangoes, apricots and rockmelon (and any other bright yellow or orange fruits and veggies you can get your hands on).
Fish is a very good source of omega-3, which is an important nutrient for eye health. Omega-3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid which are essential for your body to produce new cells, muscles, nerves and organs, as well as having potent anti-inflammatory properties. They benefit our eye by nourishing the retina and aid tear production to keep the eyes moist and healthy, reducing dry eye syndrome.
Leafy green vegetables
Easy to digest, easy to include into every meal, and readily available, leafy greens are great not just for your eyes, but for your overall health. The darker the green, the better they are for you. Leafy greens such as kale, spinach and green veggies are packed with lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for keeping your retina healthy. Broccoli, avocados and peas are also good sources of this powerful combination of antioxidants.
Berries and Citrus fruits
Oranges, lemons, red capsicum and berries are high in Vitamin C – a water soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant that helps the body form and maintain connective tissue, including collagen found in the cornea of the eye. Vitamin C also promotes healthy bones, skin and blood vessels, including the delicate capillaries in the retina.
Legumes and Pulses
Legumes are plants, pods and seeds that belong to the Fabaceae family. They refer to foods like peas and beans, such as green beans and broad beans. Pulses are dried legumes. They include chickpeas, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, mung beans, and lentils. Not only are legumes and pulses a protein powerhouse and an excellent source of fibre, they are also full of omega-3.
Pistachios, almonds, walnuts, whichever take your fancy, are excellent sources of Vitamin E and minerals such as zinc that help keep your eyes healthy and may decrease your risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Like nuts and legumes, seeds are high in omega-3s and are a rich source of vitamin E to help fight age-related eye health issues. Seeds such as chia seeds, pepitas, flaxseed, hemp seeds and sunflower seeds will help protect your retina.
Extra-virgin olive oil
The queen of oils, extra virgin olive oil can help your body absorb lutein and zeaxanthin, those all-important carotenoids that are vital for good eye health.
Two of the most powerful antioxidants for eye protection, lutein and zeaxanthin, are found generously in egg yolks, just like in leafy green vegetables. When you have them in your omelette, you’re increasing your chances of antioxidant absorption because of the high-fat content of eggs. You also get ample vitamin C and E in the egg yolk, which are believed to be helpful against macular degeneration.
Protein from lean meats such as beef, poultry (chicken, duck, turkey etc) or pork can be beneficial to your eyesight. Beef is rich in vitamin A and zinc, both of which are beneficial to your cornea and your retina. Poultry and pork are also good sources of zinc.
As well as adding these 10 superfoods to your diet, you should also consider piling your plate with plenty of other fresh fruits and vegetables. Aim to get your two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily. The more colourful your cuisine gets, the better it will be for your eye health. As an added bonus, your overall health will benefit too.
1. American Optometric Association , “Diet and Nutrition,” 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/caring-for-your-eyes/diet-and-nutrition?sso=y.
2. L. Arundel, “Top foods that can improve your eye health,” Good Vision For Life, 2016. [Online]. Available: https://goodvisionforlife.com.au/2016/08/04/top-ten-foods-can-improve-eye-health/