Healthy eating and exercise is important for overall health; however, don’t be surprised if the next time you visit your optometrist you are sent away with a prescription to eat your fruits and vegetables. Healthy eating along with exercise and protection from the sun are some of the most effective ways to maintain eye health as you age. Foods containing certain antioxidants, zinc, lutein, and zeaxanthin have been shown to have protective effects against developing macular degeneration. Some of these nutrients may also play a role in preventing cataract formation.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are yellow pigments within the macula (your central vision) that absorb harmful blue light. They are also antioxidants that protect the retina against free radicals – which are unstable molecules that can play a role in disease formation.
Some examples where lutein and zeaxanthin can be found are kale, spinach, broccoli, and corn.
Optic Eye Clinic’s tip: Add spinach to a salad, use in place of lettuce in a sandwich or pita, or add to your favourite pasta or pizza recipe!
Other antioxidants with ocular benefits include:
Vitamin C is found in red and green bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, and orange juice.
Optic Eye Clinic’s tip: Looking for something new to make for dinner tonight? How about fajitas – just don’t skimp on the green and red bell peppers.
Vitamin E is found in sunflower seeds, almonds, and hazelnuts.
Optic Eye Clinic’s tip: Nuts make a great snack. The next time you’re on the run grab a handful of almonds or try adding sliced almonds to a salad.
Beta Carotene is a precursor to Vitamin A. Beta Carotene is found in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, cantaloupes, and pumpkins.
Optic Eye Clinic’s tip: Want to make something new for lunch? Pumpkin soup is easy to make and can be topped with fresh pesto (blend 1 garlic clove, 1 cup fresh parsley, and 1/4 cup olive oil) for extra flavour.
Zinc helps the body absorb antioxidants. Oysters, beef, and dark turkey meat contain Zinc.