Tips on eating for better vision

July 10, 2015

Did you know that some foods can actually boost your eyesight? Or that certain nutrients are vital for eye health? Read on.

Tips on eating for better vision

Why you should eat your carrots

  • The macula, the area of the retina that provides most detailed vision, is sometimes described as the "yellow spot." This is because it is in fact yellow, and the reason is that it contains high levels of two natural plant pigments, lutein and zeaxanthin. These two pigments also make pumpkins look orange and corn look yellow, and they are highly beneficial for your eyes, which is why orange/yellow vegetables and fruits top the list of vision super foods.
  • They belong to a group of nutrients called carotenoids, which have powerful antioxidant properties. That means they help to counteract free radicals — highly reactive, and highly damaging, chemicals that form in the body as a result of metabolic processes and exposure to pollutants and radiation. Free radical damage accumulates with age and contributes to eye problems such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
  • These golden nutrients are also found in the lens and seem to protect against cataracts.

Foods you should eat

  • We need to eat nine portions of fruit and vegetables a day to stay healthy and lower our risk of eye diseases such as AMD.
  • Good food sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli, along with corn, pumpkin, orange peppers, kiwis, red grapes, celery and squash. They are also found in egg yolks. For your eyes' sake, try to include some of these foods in your diet every day.
  • Sometimes known as European blueberries, bilberries contain blue-red pigments that are also antioxidants. They strengthen capillaries, the tiny blood vessels that deliver nutrients and oxygen to body tissues. They may help to prevent cataracts, and have been shown to increase macular pigmentation, boost retinal blood flow and improve night vision. If you can't get hold of any, try supplements of bilberry extract (160 mg twice a day).

Benefits of wine

  • You probably know that wine — in moderation — is beneficial for your heart; the good news is that it may protect your eyes, too. In one major study of more than 3,000 people over the age of 45, a daily glass of wine reduced the risk of developing AMD by around 20 per cent, compared with people who drank beer, spirits or didn't drink at all.
  • This could be because wine, especially red wine, is high in flavonoids — antioxidants also found in citrus fruits, some vegetables, green tea and cocoa. While wine may help to protect your eyes, not all alcohol is so helpful. Some studies have suggested an increased risk of AMD among beer drinkers.
  • The chief carotenoid in tomatoes is lycopene, which may also help to protect against AMD, as low levels of lycopene have been associated with the development of macular degeneration. Like carrots, they are best cooked to release the lycopene. Rich sources include tomato sauce, ketchup and canned tomatoes.
  • If you eat a lot of refined carbohydrates — white bread, white rice and white sugar — at the expense of other nutrients, you could well become chromium-deficient. This mineral helps to strengthen the muscles that control lens focusing, while a chromium deficiency is linked with the development and progression of nearsightedness.
  • Boost your intake of chromium by eating beef, liver, chicken, eggs, wheat germ, green peppers, apples, bananas and spinach.
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