As you may know, what you eat can influence your health in meaningful ways. A healthy, well-balanced diet can energize your body, protect you from diet-related chronic diseases (i.e. heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers), and help to reduce your risk of developing cataracts and eye disease.
According to the National Eye Institute, 36.5 million Americans are affected by some type of eye disease. The major types include age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and refractive error. Each year the American economy takes a hit of $139 billion to cover medical care treating these conditions. These statistics are concerning as we rely on our sense of sight to experience the world around us.
It doesn’t stop there either. The Institute predicts that by the year 2030, approximately 4.3 million Americans will be affected by glaucoma compared to the 2.7 million who currently have it in 2019.
Taking care of yourself to ensure you maintain your vision is rather important. So, what foods should you focus on to help keep your eyes healthy?
1. Fatty Fish: Fatty fish contains essential Omega 3 fatty acids such as DHA, which is recommended for dry eyes and helps to restore the structural support of the eye’s membranes. Examples of fatty fish with DHA include sardines, mackerel, tuna and salmon. It’s best to include fatty fish 2-3 times per week to get an adequate amount of Omega 3 fatty acids.
2. Green Leafy Vegetables: Making vegetables a part of your meals is extremely important. Eating dark leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale are beneficial as they are filled with carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids protect the eye from the sun and from blue light.
3. Fruits: Fruits are rich in vitamins A, C, E, and beta carotene. These nutrients are specifically important for daytime vision and can be found in squash, sweet potato and cantaloupe.
4. Eggs: Eggs contain components that protect the lens of the eye. These protective components include cysteine, sulfur, lecithin, amino acids and lutein.
5. Soy: Soy and soy products contain essential fatty acids, phytoestrogens, vitamin E, and natural anti-inflammatory agents that work to protect the eye.
The next time you’re in the supermarket looking to buy food for the week, keep this handy list in the back of your mind. Incorporating these foods into your meals can be a fun challenge while improving your eyesight.
Bonnie R. Giller is a Registered and Certified Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. She helps chronic dieters, emotional eaters, and people with medical conditions like diabetes, break the spell that diets have over them and reclaim WholeBody Trust™ so they can live their life to the fullest.