As it turns out, the rumors about carrots are true: they help your eyes and improve vision. They contain beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A. Not only does this give carrots their eye-catching color, it helps your eyes function at their best.
There are more than just carrots in play, though. It has been shown that various foods containing vitamins A, C and E, as well as zinc can help prevent macular degeneration. The antioxidants contained in these foods combat harmful elements in your eyes that might damage your retinas.
The retina, in particular the part known as the macula, is very vulnerable to elements known as free radicals. These molecules can actually erode the proteins and DNA inside the cells of your body. Antioxidants reduce the damage these free radicals cause.
Let’s go beyond carrots, then, to seven more foods that will make your eyes happy. Think of this list as an alternative if you decide not to undertake laser eye surgery.
Turkey is bursting with zinc. In combination with other antioxidants, zinc can greatly reduce your risk of getting age-related macular degeneration. You don’t even need much, as 3 ounces of turkey is enough to help keep your eyes healthy.
Tomatoes are full of carotenoids like lycopene, which gives them their red color. Researchers have demonstrated an increase of lycopene in the tissues of the eye helps protect against bright light striking the retina. Vitamin C is also from tomatoes, protecting your eyes in addition to serving as a boost for the immune system.
More helpful antioxidants are packed into these vegetables, namely lutein and zeaxanthin. These lower the risk of developing cataracts by increasing the amount of pigment in the macular area of your eye. This pigment absorbs the ultraviolet light coming into your eye.
The human body does not create these useful antioxidants on their own, which is why it’s so important to make sure you get them through your diet. If you get one of them, you get the other, since they are usually found in foods together. Some leafy greens include spinach and lettuce, but lutein and zeaxanthin can also be found in oranges and eggs.
Speaking of eggs, they contain zinc in addition to the two antioxidants mentioned above, also reducing risk of macular degeneration. According to a 2008 study, persons older than 55 years of age should make antioxidants and zinc part of their diets. Of course, people of any age can benefit. After all, it’s never too early for preventative measures.
Citrus and Berries
Oranges were mentioned earlier and berries can be added to the list. Vitamin C is one of the better known antioxidants, and it has several other healthy uses. A daily intake of vitamin C can help prevent cataracts.
Almonds have another important vitamin, Vitamin E. Just about a handful a day will give you half of the vitamin E you need. Smaller amounts of this vitamin can be found in other nuts, like hazelnuts or peanuts. Sunflower seeds are also a good source of vitamin E.
Certain fish, like anchovies, mackerel and tuna are loaded in DHA, a fatty acid necessary to keep your retinas healthy. Certain eye problems, like dry eyes, have been linked by study to a lack of DHA.
DHA is present in the retina, as a component of the photoreceptors found there. It’s believed DHA has anti-inflammatory properties. Evidence suggests macular degeneration may be directly linked to inflammation in tissues of the eye.
In addition to providing free radical fighting elements to your diet, these healthy foods can help keep weight down, which in turn reduces risk of diabetes. For those not in the know, diabetes has caused more adult blindness than any other disorder.
Eyes are very complicated, but doctors today know enough to understand how to take care of them. Just add the above foods to your diet, and you’ll help your to eyes to see for decades to come.