Our eyesight is precious. The bad news is that 75% of American adults need eyeglasses of one kind or another. Cataracts are becoming almost endemic and a whopping $7 billion is spent on these operations every year in the US. I live in Europe but my eye specialist told me that the rise in the number of cataracts in my area was disconcerting. There is no plausible explanation as yet. But the good news is that diet and other healthy lifestyle habits can help to maintain optimal eye health
The AREDS (Age Related Eye-Disease Study) research shows that by taking either a multivitamin or eating a healthy diet, the risk of developing vision loss problems was reduced by 25%. These studies involved thousands of people and were conducted among the 55-80 age group over a period of several years.
Here are the five foods you should be eating to keep your vision laser sharp and youthful.
“My eyes are my favorite part of me – not for how they look, but for how they see.” – Chris Sebastian.
1. Carrots and squash
Carotenoids are a plentiful nutrient (usually orange or yellow) in many fruit and vegetables of the same color. We can think of carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, sweet red peppers, cantaloupe and dried apricots.
These carotenoids contain lutein which protects the macula (part of the retina) from damage caused by blue light and ultra violet light. The American Optometric Association says that we need up to 10 mg of lutein every day although there is no official RDA amount. It is better not to overcook these vegetables as this can decrease their carotenoid content. The one exception is the carrot which can be cooked well to get the maximum benefit.
2. Spinach and kale
Spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables not only contain carotenoids but also zeaxanthin. This, together with the lutein helps to keep the macula in top shape. Experts say that it is sufficient to eat about 10 ounces of frozen spinach or kale a week to get enough of these essential nutrients. Spinach is so rich in vitamins and minerals that it may also help to prevent cancer.
One of the most effective vitamins in protecting your eyes is vitamin E. This is found in great quantities in nuts, especially almonds. Well worth ramping up your intake of these. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant which can prevent free radicals from damaging cells.
The AREDS study quoted above also mentions vitamin E as being on the essential vitamins list to help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. It is also worth remembering that the latter condition is the main cause of blindness for people over the age of 55 in the western world. Figures for this disease are likely to triple by the year 2025.
4. Oranges and grapefruit
Any fruits which are rich in vitamin C can also help to maintain optimum vision. Most fruits contain vitamin C so you have a wide choice. One cup of pure orange juice can give you 124 milligrams of vitamin C. If you cannot find oranges easily, sweet red peppers contain three times the amount of vitamin C so they are an even better substitute!
One study has demonstrated that with increased intake of vitamin C together with the E vitamin groups and other nutrients, patients were less likely to suffer from eyesight problems.
5. Omega 3 foods
We hear a lot about all the omega 3 foods such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, walnuts and canola oil. As you cannot manufacture your own supplies of these omega 3 fatty acids, the only alternative is to get them from food or through supplements.
What is the function of omega 3 with regard to eye health? Research mentioned by the Universty of Maryland Medical Center shows results from an interesting study. They gave a questionnaire to 3,000 people who were over 49. The data showed that those ate more fish with omega 3 were less likely to have problems with eyesight decline such as cataracts or macular degeneration.
The next time you plan a meal, keep your eyesight in mind.
“Whatever you may look like, marry a man your own age – as your beauty fades, so will his eyesight.”- Phyllis Diller.
Featured photo credit: Vision of Eyechart With Glasses/Ken Teegardin via flickr.com