More than 25 million people worldwide are affected by slowly failing eyesight otherwise known as macular degeneration. It's an age-related eye disease along with cataracts, which according to the American Optometric Association is the leading cause of blindness. The major cause of these eye ailments is oxidation and inflammation in the eyes.
'Age-related' doesn't mean we are all doomed to these conditions. In fact, eat the right fruits and vegetables regularly and you may be able to avoid them altogether! Indeed, the good news is that research has found that you can counteract oxidation and inflammation and even improve the current condition of your eyesight by eating fruits and vegetables rich in certain nutrients.
And remember, our eyes are our windows on the world. Always protect them whenever possible! Wear sunglasses outdoors, even in cloudy weather! And always wear protective gear for those home projects and while playing sports. 40% of emergency room visits for children between the ages of 10 and 14 are for eye injuries. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that your sunglasses block both UVB and UVA rays, and be labeled ‘UV 400’ or ‘100% UV protection.’
What you eat can go a long way to preventing vision loss, disease and degeneration. It may not keep you from needing prescription glasses at some point in your life, but it can make all the difference in preventing your vision from getting worse. Recent research has shown that certain compounds found in some fruits and veggies have an exceedingly positive effect on our eyesight!
So first lets look at what nutrients are most important for eye health and then what fruits and veggies have the highest concentrations of these vision-boosting nutrients!
What to Look For
- Lutein is a carotenoid that plays a powerful role as an antioxidant that protects our eyes from the harmful effects of free radicals, which play a significant role in macular degeneration and cataracts. Lutein is found in both the retina and the lens of our eyes, and helps protect against harmful UV rays and blue light given off by the sun. Lutein is found mainly in the ‘rod cells’ of the retina, or the macula of the eye, which is responsible for our straight-ahead sharp vision.
- Zeaxanthin is another carotenoid which acts as a powerful antioxidant in protecting our eyes from vision loss and degeneration. Zeaxanthin is found in high concentration in the ‘cone cells’ of the retina, which are responsible for detailed central vision.
- Folate: a study in 2014, published in the Integrative Medicine Newsletter of the Natural Standards Research Collaboration determined that those with a higher consumption of folate had a lower risk of glaucoma.
- Vitamin C is an extremely powerful antioxidant which protects every cell of our eyes! Damage to the lens of our eyes can be avoided with a higher consumption of vitamin C.
- Vitamin E is another particularly potent antioxidant which protects the fats that line the outside of every cell in our bodies including our eyes. Deficiency in vitamin E is strongly linked to our aging process.
- Beta-carotene is a form of vitamin A which supports eye health and protects our eyes from disease, in particular age-related macular degeneration.
- Zinc deficiency plays a major role in vision loss and diseases of the eye.
- Omega-3 fatty acids also play a vital role in eye and vision health by protecting against several eye ailments including blepharitis and dry eye.
Best Fruits and Vegetables That Boost Your Vision
- Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, collards, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts and broccoli, are rich in vitamins C, E and A, as well as beta-carotene. They also provide lutein, zeaxanthin and folate with a moderate amount of zinc. Each even offers some omega-3 fatty acids.
- Eat your spinach! Spinach is another cruciferous veggie but I wanted to highlight it because in addition to all the benefits mentioned above, it's especially rich in the antioxidant vitamins C and E.
- Don’t forget your carrots! Carrots are particularly rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E. Consuming carrots also provides a high amount of lutein and zeaxanthin as well as folates and omega-3 fats.
- Avocados are the richest natural source of lutein! They’re also packed with folate and omega-3 fatty acids. Avocados provide a wealth of carotenoids as well as those critical antioxidant vitamins E and C!
- Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits are exceedingly rich in the antioxidant vitamin C which among its many properties stimulates the production of vitamin E in our systems. Consuming citrus fruits provides us with folate as well.
So for better vision add one or more of these fresh fruits and veggies to your juicing and smoothie recipes.