It is no secret that eye health is on the decline in recent years. Eye problems were once restricted to old age and a select few unfortunate young ones; but now, even toddlers are forced to wear spectacles. Sure, genes play a role, but a good diet can make a big difference. Eyes need nutrients such as vitamins A and C, bioflavonoids, carotenoids, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals and antioxidants. If you and your family want to enjoy good sight, you need to eat a diet that can provide all of these nutrients on a regular basis to your body. Here are 7 foods that fit the bill and will not strain your wallet either!
This is a no brainer, isn't it? Something we've all known since childhood. The secret is in carrots' beta-carotene and lutein content, which help prevent night blindness and protect the cornea. While carrots are good to consume raw or cooked, if lightly steamed they are most easily digested by the human body. Carrots are also rich in vitamin C, and besides being super foods for your eyes they have remarkable benefits for your skin and hair (a bonus!).
2. Leafy Green Vegetables
Green leafy veggies contain vitamin C, beta-carotene and large amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin. The nutrients present in green leafy vegetables help to absorb large amounts of blue light intensity, so these nutrients act like sunscreen for your eyes. That's why Mama always told you to eat your greens! Best bets are spinach, kale and broccoli. Consume them at least twice a week, either sautéed or puréed in a soup. You can also blend them into your early morning super smoothie.
Almonds are a rich source of vitamin E which is why the oil is often used in cosmetics, be it for skin, hair or eye care. While almonds are good to eat raw, they taste amazing when soaked overnight in water and provide more nutritious benefits to the eye this way. Soak overnight and in the morning, the skin will come off easily. Add these mega-size almonds to salads and stir fries.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Here's a good reason to choose sweet potatoes over regular potatoes, since sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene (a type of Vitamin A), potassium and fiber, and thus are more eye health-friendly. Of course, baking them is even healthier; bake equal portions of carrots and sweet potato chips and you get an amazing snack that is both delicious and nutritious. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of fresh pepper.
These are rich in zinc, which is responsible for activating Vitamin A, so that it is absorbed more effectively by the body. There are several types of legumes that you can consider, from chickpeas to kidney beans. Dried beans and legumes, except black-eyed peas and lentils, require soaking in tepid water, which rehydrates them for better cooking and increases the nutritional value. Enjoy them in stews and salads, or simply steam them for a snack.
6. Oily Fish
Consuming omega-3 rich foods regularly can help protect tiny blood vessels within the eyes. Salmon is a powerhouse of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, which are vital for optimum eye health. Other oily fish and cheaper alternatives to salmon are sardines, herring, and mackerel. Aim for 2 to 3 portions per week, and as much as possible, buy wild fish.
Research indicates that eating an egg a day is equivalent to taking one multivitamin pill a day! That will give you an idea of how nutritious eggs are. Both chicken and duck eggs are a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which prevent macular degeneration and protect your eyesight. If you have cholesterol or other issues, 2 to 3 eggs a week, poached or boiled, is best.
Your eyes, just like any other part of your body, need diligent and conscious care. Be gentle on them; do not read in dark and do not stare at an unprotected computer screen for hours. If you practice safe eye sight, along with an eye-friendly diet, you can keep your eyes in top shape for a long time, as well as help prevent various eye problems. So say yes to healthy eyes!
This article was written by Surela Mukherjee, a passionate writer, foodie and fitness advocate.