Eating for healthy eyes
Many people eat healthy diets to improve digestion, the immune system, weight, skin and mood, but many forget that diet is important for maintaining healthy eyes and eyesight too. Knowing what foods to eat for good eye health is really important: a wide range of different vitamins and minerals are essential to eye health, so you need to ensure that your diet covers them all.
The most important vitamins and minerals for eye health are vitamins A, C and E, zinc and carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin. Omega-3 fatty acids are also important.
What foods should you be eating for healthy eyes?
Here is my list of foods essential to maintaining good eye health:
- Red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, such as bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes and citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons, are great sources of Vitamin C and beta carotenes, which help support your production of connective tissues such as collagen. They also act as natural antioxidants, keeping your eyes safe from the degenerating effects of oxidative stress.
- Purple fruits and vegetables, such as purple carrots, are often rich in carotenoids, which are particularly beneficial for eye health.
- Leafy greens such as kale and spinach contain a whole host of important vitamins and minerals such as lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc and vitamins E and C. Other green vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts also contain a lot of lutein and zeaxanthin.
- Sweet potatoes and carrots are great sources of vitamin A. But did you know that 100 g of cod liver oil contains over 6 times as much vitamin A as 100 g of carrots? Of course, consuming that much cod liver oil in a day isn't safe—the common recommendation is no more than 3 g a day.
- Fatty fishes such as tuna, mackerel, salmon and trout are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Have a look at our fish recipes for ideas on how to incorporate more fish into your diet.
- For the vegetarians among you, walnuts, flaxseeds, soybeans and tofu are all also high in omega 3s. One of my favourite tofu dishes is this Marinated Tofu Stir Fry. You can also try making your own Tasty Tofu Kebabs.
- Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E and zinc and make great, healthy snacks.
- Oysters have enormous amounts of zinc stored in them, so if you can stomach them, eat more of them!
Why are these vitamins and minerals important?
I feel that I can't tell you which foods to eat and which vitamins and minerals to focus on without telling you why. So here's why these vitamins in particular are important for eye health
- Vitamin A is essential for good eye health as it protects the retina and cornea. A vitamin A deficiency is also one of the most common deficiencies in Canada. One of the first signs of this kind of deficiency is often impaired eyesight and night-blindness
- Vitamin C is important for building connective tissues such as collagen, which is found in the cornea
- Vitamin E is an antioxidant and is important in protecting the eye from oxidative damage
- Zinc is important for cellular processes such as cell division and enzyme activity, so it's really important for the whole body, not just the eyes. It also plays a key role in keeping the retina healthy
- Carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin protect the eyes from sunlight and also play an important role in the scattering and absorption of light, so they can actually help improve eyesight
- Omega-3 fatty acids are important for general eye health, but in particular they are thought to prevent dry eye syndrome and protect against the degeneration of the retina (macular degeneration), which is the leading cause of vision loss in the elderly
Are there any herbal remedies I can take alongside an eye-healthy diet?
For healthy eyes and vision, consider A.Vogel's Sharp Vision, a herbal remedy containing lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc and beta-carotene. These essential nutrients are naturally sourced from blackcurrants, carrot juice and the herb Tagetes, so they are more easily absorbed by the body.
This herbal remedy is not intended to replace a healthy, balanced diet, but rather, to complement healthy choices.