Many fruits and vegetables, along with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, are healthy for our eyes. Although eating certain foods may not give us night-vision goggles, eating a variety of antioxidant-rich foods may help prevent or slow the progression of cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
Research has shown that several nutrients can keep your eyes healthy—and looking sharp! (Pun intended!) These are the nutrients—and just some of the foods you can find them in—to focus on to maintain eye health:
- Vitamin A: Carrots, sweet potato, cantaloupe, papaya, fortified milk products
- Vitamin C: Peppers, oranges, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes
- Vitamin E: Nuts and nut butters, seeds, wheat germ
- Lutein & zeaxanthin: Green leafy vegetables (i.e., spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, etc.), broccoli, yellow squash, oranges, kiwis, mangoes, eggs
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Fatty fish (i.e. salmon, sardines, trout, etc.), walnuts, canola oil
Additional research studies are in progress to determine if dietary supplements can prevent or delay the progression of age-related macular degeneration. Although supplementation of specific vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants may be appropriate for some people, it is always important to check with your doctor before starting a new supplement regimen to ensure you are selecting an appropriate, effective, and safe supplement—particularly if you are taking prescription medications or have or are at risk for certain medical conditions. Remember that dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and therefore they are not guaranteed to contain what is reported on their labels.
While all of this information is useful, an overall healthy diet and lifestyle will ultimately help you to maintain the health of your eyes—as well as the health of your other organs. Exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are important in keeping your vision at its best. As for carrots, if you like them, continue to enjoy them! If not, know that there are plenty of other foods out there that your eyes will like just as well!