Eyesight is a precious gift and one we want to protect. As we age, there are several conditions that impact eyesight. Common conditions are cataracts, glaucoma, and Age-related Macular Degeneration.
The good news is you can prevent or slow the progression of these conditions by eating the right kinds of food.
The best foods for good eyesight are rich in carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin and foods rich in polyphenols. These compounds help protect the eyes from free radicals and provide the nutrients needed to optimize eye health. The foods richest in these nutrients are spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens blueberries, raspberries, apples, and cranberries.
There are a few vitamins and minerals that play starring roles in eye health as well, vitamins C and E, folate, selenium, and zinc.
The number one source for your vitamins and minerals isn’t a bottle–it is from the grocery store, or you can even grow some of them at home. Here’s some great tips on how you can eat right to protect your eyesight:
To get a good amount of vitamin C in your daily diet, be sure to include bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and strawberries. Another food high in vitamin C is parsley. I used to wonder who in the world would eat parsley then I discovered chimichurri sauce.
If you’ve never had chimichurri, visit my Pinterest board for a great recipe. You can put chimichurri on just about anything-meat, chicken, pork, eggs, or nut crackers. Talk about a sneaky way to get vitamin C rich parsley in your diet!
You’ll score big with vitamin E by eating sunflower seeds, almonds, and olives. When I don’t have the time or the energy to cook a meal, my quick go-to foods are nuts and olives. They are rich in healthy fats that protect our cells and reduce inflammation. Knowing that they protect my eyes is just another great reason to turn them into a tasty meal.
Great sources of folate can be found in dried beans and lentils in addition to asparagus, spinach, and Romaine lettuce. Canned beans like black, kidney, garbanzo, or pinto beans contain folate but not as much as they would if you prepared them at home due to the high heat processing by food manufacturers. If you can prepare the beans at home, great. If not, buy the canned versions and pat yourself on the back for a healthy choice.
You can use beans in your salads or in a bowl that includes other vegetables that support eye health. Here is a recipe for Quinoa Burrito Bowl that will leave you happily satisfied knowing your supporting good eyesight and general good health.
My favorite source of selenium is Brazil nuts. Just one nut per day provides your body with the amount you need for good health. Keep a bowl of these tasty morsels in your kitchen. Snacking on a couple while you cook sure makes you feel good about your choices.
Zinc is found in beef, lamb, and venison. Always remember to buy grass-fed, grass-finished beef to get more of the healthy fats.
To find reliable sources of grass-fed meats, get in touch with your local Weston A. Price Foundation chapter.
Speaking of fats, having healthy fats from cold water fish is protective of the eyes, as well. Eating fish three times a week is a great idea, not only will protect your eyesight by eating right, but it is also good for heart health, too.
Good eye health comes from eating a wide range of healthy foods that are easily included in smoothies, salads, and bowls.
Have fun creating health with food and remember variety is the spice of life.