Nutrition and your Eyes

Research suggests that antioxidants reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Specific antioxidants can have additional benefits as well; for example, vitamin A protects against blindness, and vitamin C may play a role in preventing or alleviating glaucoma. Essential fatty acids appear to help the eye in a variety of ways, from alleviating symptoms of dry eye syndrome to guarding against macular damage.

Try these foods to make sure you get enough eye-protecting nutrients:

  • Vitamin A: cod liver oil, liver, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash.
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin: spinach, kale, collard greens.
  • Vitamin C: sweet peppers (red or green), kale, strawberries, broccoli, oranges, cantaloupe.
  • Bioflavonoids: citrus fruits, cherries, grapes, plums.
  • Vitamin E: sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts.
  • Selenium: brazil nuts, yeast, seafood.
  • Zinc: oysters, hamburgers, wheat, nuts.
  • Fatty acids: cold-water fish (salmon, mackerel, trout).

In general, you should eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables, two servings of fish per week, some nuts and some yellow or orange fruits and vegetables.

What about carbs? In July 2007, study findings suggested that eating too many “bad carbs” such as refined white flour may increase your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. The idea is that blood sugar spikes caused by such high glycemic index carbohydrates could negatively affect the eyes. Researchers suggested that people instead consume healthier carbs, such as high-fiber fruits and vegetables. Low glycemic or “good” carbohydrates are found in foods containing whole grain, whereas high glycemic or “bad” carbohydrates are found in processed foods such as white rice. Researchers say evidence is building that “bad” carbs rating high on a glycemic index can cause spikes in blood sugar that are unhealthy for eyes, whereas “good” carbs help stabilize blood sugar. Bon appétit!

Vitamin E and Minerals : Nutrition from nuts

Like vitamins A and C, vitamin E may reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. The minerals selenium and zinc help your body to absorb antioxidant vitamins and may have their own protective effects as well.