Eating for Eye Health
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. Keep your windows clear with these eye-healthy nutrients
One of the largest concerns in eye health is age-related macular degeneration or AMD. In 2009, ABC news reported that 8 million people are at risk for experiencing AMD, and 1.75 million people have an advanced form of AMD, according to the National Eye Institute. While eating healthy can't cure blindness or even poor vision, eating a diet rich in these beneficial nutrients can deter many ocular degenerative diseases and keep your eyes working at their best well into your old age.
Eatingwell.com provides that studies support the positive effects of antioxidants on the longevity of eyes. People with higher levels of antioxidants have lower levels of age-related macular degeneration. Leading antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, and zeaxanthin. While it is not 100% certain, it is hypothesized that these antioxidant fight cellular damage in the retina by warding off free radicals. Lutein and zeaxanthin can also help to form macular pigment that blocks protects the eyes from the sun's harmful rays.
Vitamins and Minerals
In 2001, one large study sponsored by the National Eye Institute called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, or AREDS, found that people at high risk for advanced AMD lowered their risk of the disease by about 25 percent when treated with a high-dose combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, and zinc. The study also found that taking these supplements reduced the risk of vision loss caused by AMD by about 19 percent. While the effectiveness of supplementing with these nutrients for preventing eye disease in people with no current eye health problems has been questioned, there is no denying the benefits of regular consumption of these nutrients in food. Sources
Good sources of beta-carotene and vitamin A are sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, turnip greens, winter squash, collard greens, cilantro and fresh thyme.
Vitamin C can be obtained from oranges, green peppers, watermelon, papaya, grapefruit, cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi, mango, broccoli, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, citrus juices or juices fortified with vitamin C, raw and cooked leafy greens (turnip greens, spinach), red and green peppers, canned and fresh tomatoes, potatoes, winter squash, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and pineapple.
Foods rich in zeaxanthin and lutein are eggs, kale, spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, romaine lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, corn, garden peas and Brussels sprouts. The Office of Dietary Supplements lists oysters, red meat and poultry, the beans, nuts, certain types of seafood (such as crab and lobster), whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, and dairy products as sufficient sources of Zinc.
In any case, a well-rounded approach will bring about the most benefits. You want to keep your whole day full of a variety of fruits and vegetables to cover all your bases. Making sure you get an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can help you preserve your eyes and your vision for as long as you need it.
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