Building and maintaining excellent vision isn't something that happens without effort. Even if you believe nothing can be done to help your vision, taking steps to improve nutrition can go a long way toward preserving, or even improving, the health of your eyes.
You need to start with a base of core nutrition, but by adding a few eye healthy foods to that base, you may be able to see improvements in your eye health. Here's a list of 10 different foods that can help to preserve or even improve your vision.
Collard Greens: Like all leafy green vegetables, collards are high in the carotenoid nutrient lutein. Eating foods rich in carotenoids, particularly lutein and zeaxanthin, is associated with reduced risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
Zucchini: Another food rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin help by protecting the central retina (also known as the macula) from blue and ultraviolet light. Consumption of zeaxanthin, with lutein, has been found in studies to reduce the likehood of developing cataracts.
Broccoli: Broccoli and broccoli sprouts have been found to protect the retina from free radical damage. This may be due to a compound in broccoli called sulphoraphane which naturally boosts the body's own defense system against free radicals.
Eggs: Eggs are rich in cysteine and sulphur, two components of glutathione, a protein that acts as an antioxidant for the lens of the eye. This may explain why sulphur-containing compounds have been found to protect from cataract formation. Egg yolks also contain lutein and diets high in lutein lead to reduced risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
Garlic And Onions: Sulphur-rich garlic and onions are important for the production of glutathione, an important sulphur containing protein that acts as an antioxidant for the lens of the eye. Raising glutathione levels can be instrumental in both prevention and resolution of visual problems like macular degeneration, glaucoma or cataracts.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes contain two eye-healthy nutrients -- lycopene and lutein. Both of these phytochemicals are carotenoids, found to be helpful for vision. Lycopene has been well documented as effective in cancer-protection, but its antioxidant capabilities also act to protect the eyes from sun damage.
Carrots: The old axiom that carrots are good for the eyes is not just a myth. Carrots are rich in betacarotene (precursor to vitamin A, a necessary nutrient for vision), lycopene (a phytonutrient antioxidant protective of UVB radiation in the eye) and lutein (a protective phytonutrient found in high concentrations in the macula which protects it from free radical damage).
Blueberries: Eating blueberries has been associated with the reduction of eye fatigue. As well as having the eye-healthy carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, blueberries contain anthocyanins, eye-nourishing phytonutrients which have been shown to improve night vision. They also contain flavonoids like rutin, resveratrol and quercitin which may have preventative effects on macular degeneration. Blueberries also contain minerals necessary for proper vision including selenium and zinc.
Apricots: Apricots are rich in both beta-carotene and lycopene, two phytochemicals that promote good vision. Beta-carotene is converted by the body to vitamin A, an important antioxidant that resists oxidative stress damage to the lense of the eye, helping to prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.
Fatty Fish: Cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, cod, haddock as well as sardines are rich in the healthy Omega-3 oils. Fish are especially high in EPA and DHA, two Omega-3 fats which are important for cellular health. DHA makes up 30 percent of the fatty acids that comprise the retina.
The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale, Holistic Nutritionist and trained chef, living in Toronto. You can email him with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.