These days there is a lot of focus on what foods are good for the body but have you ever thought about what specific foods are good for the eyes? We need to fuel them with rich nutrients so they can keep up with the visual demands we encounter on a daily basis!
Did you know that when you read a book for an hour, the muscles make approximately 10,000 coordinated movements? Amazing isn’t it? Our eyes are one of the hardest working muscles in our body.
Anytime we think about the eyes and food we always think about carrots. It’s true that carrots are a great source of nutrients for the eyes. Carrots have a high source of beta-carotene. Beta carotene is an anti-oxidant that is a part of a group called carotenoids. Specifically, beta carotene is one of the few carotenoids that can be coverted into vitamin A. Vitamin A helps create a protective barrier on the surface of our eye to fight off bacteria and viruses. This in turn helps reduce the risks of eye infections like pink eye (conjunctivitis)!
There are also other eye conditions that could benefit from certain types of foods. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among people aged 50 and over. In AMD the central portion of the vision, the macula, is damaged which affects straight on vision over time. In the macula there are two main carotenoids that exist: lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids have been found to have protective properties for the macula.
Foods that are rich in lutein can help protect the macula such as dark green leafy vegetables – kale, spinach and collard greens. For example just 1 cup of cooked kale contains one of the most amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin (23.7 mg/1 cup) and a close second is spinach which contains 20.4 mg/1 cup.
Zeaxanthin is the more dominant component in the macula. Foods that are more rich in zeaxanthin than lutein are bell peppers. Did you know that the color matters when choosing which one has the highest amount of zeaxanthin? If you are going to choose a pepper choose orange first then yellow, red and green!
Berries are also wonderful anti-oxidants that can protect the eyes. Goji berries and blueberries are definitely two items you want to have on your grocery list!
You can incorporate these foods in your daily life with something as simple as a smoothie or a soup.
At Merivale Vision Care, our friendly optometrists check for any signs of eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration at your annual eye exam. We also retail supplements for people who would benefit from taking lutein and zeaxanthin so drop by for a visit and speak to one of our friendly staff for more information!