Nutrition-wise blog

Eating for eye health

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. June 18, 2014

Most people have heard that carrots are good for their eyes, but do you know that other foods help protect vision and prevent eye disease?

The National Eye Institute and other vision experts note that a healthy diet is an important factor in eye health. Researchers have found that certain nutrients with antioxidant properties are beneficial. These include carotenoid compounds such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, and vitamins C and E. Zinc and omega-3 fatty acids are also important for eye health.

Mayo Clinic eye and nutrition experts have put together the following lists to help you choose foods for better eye health:

  • Vegetables: Kale, collard greens, peppers, broccoli, sweet potato, spinach, peas, pumpkin, carrots and Swiss chard
  • Fruits: Peaches, blueberries, oranges, tangerines, mango, tomato, apricot, papaya, cantaloupe, honeydew, avocado and grapefruit
  • Sources of zinc: King crab, lamb, bulgur, lean beef, fortified breakfast cereals, beans, lean pork, dark meat of poultry, whole-wheat or buckwheat flours, pumpkin seeds
  • Omega-3-rich foods: Salmon, herring, tuna, mackerel, rainbow trout, sardines, flaxseed, English walnuts, canola oil, roasted soybeans

In addition, it's important to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk for developing diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Each of these conditions can damage small delicate vessels found in the eye and potentially lead to vision loss.

The lists above can be a starting point for planning eye-healthy meals. Here's a sample daily menu:

  • Breakfast of whole-grain cereal with berries and walnuts
  • Lunch salad of spinach, orange and grapefruit segments, pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of canola oil
  • Dinner of oven-roasted chicken legs, sweet potatoes and broccoli, with fresh sliced tomatoes and a dessert of peaches

What other combinations can you envision?

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Jun. 18, 2014