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The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

The Eyes Have It: Eating for Optimal Eye Health

The Eyes Have It: Eating for Optimal Eye Health

Most of us know that regular eye exams, sunglasses, protective eyewear when necessary, adequate lighting (too bright and glaring can be as damaging as too little), and maybe the occasional round of eye drops are essential to maintaining tip-top eye health. But did you know a diet high in beta carotene, Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, lutein, zeaxanthin–a carotenoid like lutein–lycopene, quercetin, vitamins A, C, E, and zinc can help improve vision, aid in preventing glaucoma and cataracts, and reportedly even help to stave off the effects and progression of diseases like macular degeneration?

According to the experts, vision depends on capillaries that supply various parts of the eye with oxygen and nutrients. Providing these capillaries with resources from eye-healthy foods only makes good sense. And while no one can guarantee that consuming these foods will act as the proverbial magic bullet, the results of studies done at such eminent medical facilities as Johns Hopkins and Tufts University maintain a diet that regularly includes items such as leafy greens, cold water fish, nuts, carrots, tomatoes, avocados, and broccoli can put us on the path to better vision and eye wellness.

Why not eye-dentify these nutrient-packed foods on your own road to optimal eye health:

Avocados: Rich in lutein, key in the prevention of macular degeneration and cataracts, this fruit contains valuable eye vitamins like A, B6, and E.

Berries: Cited for lowering high blood pressure, a factor in macular degeneration.

Broccoli: Excellent source of lutein, calcium, vitamin C, and zeaxanthin.

Carrots: Huge source of vitamin A and beta-carotene (and basis for the old belief that rabbits, who consume them in abundance, might see better at night).

Eggs: Prime source of vitamins A, B12, and D, along with lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc.

Garlic: Packed with selenium, sometimes identified in the prevention of cataracts, vitamin C, and quercetin.

Kale, spinach, turnip greens, romaine lettuce: Known for their abundance of vitamin A, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

Orange bell peppers: Ultimate source of zeaxanthin

Salmon: Major source of Omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid, vitamins A, D, B6, and B12.

Soy: Source of isoflavones, which provide antioxidant properties.

Sunflower seeds: Contain selenium.

Tea (green, black, or oolong): Credited with helping to prevent cataracts. Can also help prevent macular degeneration by blocking growth of new blood vessels in the back of the eye.

Tomatoes: High in vitamin C and lycopene.

Walnuts: Chock full of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Doctors and nutritionists agree, whether you are 8 or 80, it’s never too early or too late to center your diet around these eye-healthy foods. Who knows: Peter Rabbit and his friends may really have been on to something!

2 comments

1 Susan Morrison { 03.14.12 at 8:43 am }

You learn something new every day! Thank you!

2 Steven Sedlmayr { 03.07.12 at 9:37 am }

The old belief that carrots help you started during WWII. It was a myth started so that the Germans could be convinced that our spotters and pilots had superior night vision when in reality we were detecting the planes using radar. We did not want them to know about radar, so the myth of vision and carrots was invented for a cover story.

And what was not mentioned was bilberry and taurine. Bilberry and Taurine are the two final supplements that you should be taking to improve the health of your eyes. Bilberry improves the circulation to the retina whilst taurine has been shown to help regenerate tissues in the retina. You should be taking around 180 mg of Bilberry along with 500 mg of Taurine per day.

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