Can your diet play a part in superior eye health? The short answer is, yes. The overall health of your eyes depends on certain nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, bioflavonoids, carotenoids, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals and antioxidants. Eating foods rich in these nutrients (sometimes known as superfoods) can keep your eyes functioning at their best for a longer period of time, as well as helping to prevent various eye problems. So, what’s on the menu for good eyesight? The top superfoods for healthy eyes to add to your trolley include:
- Oily fish. The Omega-3 fatty acids contained in oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel are essential for eye health. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 acid that is found in the retina, so consuming this is thought to contribute to retinal health. Oily fish, one of the top superfoods for eyes, is rich in DHA and is a better source of omega-3 than alternatives such as flaxseed oil, because the omega-3s they contain are different.
- Dark green vegetables. Spinach, broccoli and kale all contain an abundance of carotenoids. These help to protect the retina and lens by absorbing and controlling free radicals that can damage cells, with powerful antioxidants, which defend against this damage.
- Deeply coloured berries including blueberries, bilberries and blackberries are another good source of antioxidants. These superfoods contain antioxidants that protect the eyes against the cell damage that can cause conditions including AMD (age-related macular degeneration).
- Myth has it that these can help you to see in the dark! It’s actually true that carrots are a great source of vitamin A, which protects the cells in your eyes and really does help to prevent night blindness. Other good sources of vitamin A in the diet include other orange vegetables such as butternut squash and sweet potato, as well as eggs and liver.
- This superfood is an excellent way to bump up your Vitamin C intake. Important for preventing damage to eye tissue, vitamin C is found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, especially red peppers, strawberries, grapefruit, oranges and broccoli.
The importance of a healthy, balanced diet
While it’s by no means the only factor, it’s true that what you eat can definitely contribute to the health of your eyes and, by extension, the quality of your vision.
As well as consuming the key superfoods listed above, maintaining good eye health also depends on a well-balanced diet that contains a wide variety of healthy foods. That’s because conditions like diabetes, which can have a serious effect on eye health, are directly affected by diet.
So, while you are increasing your intake of berries and mackerel, try to ensure that you also reduce your intake of unhealthy foods that contain processed sugar and saturated fat.