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5 Foods To Boost Your Eye Health

5 Foods To Boost Your Eye Health

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.

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“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.

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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.

3. Almonds

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.

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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.

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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

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Robert Locke

Freelance writer

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12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and black tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here:

11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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