Top Foods For Eye Health | Holistic Health HQ
If keeping your vision clear is important to you, it’s a good idea to know the best foods for eye health. The top foods for eye health are also foods that would be good to add to your diet regardless. But when you pay special attention to your vision and supporting its function, you can keep your eyesight from degenerating and improve your quality of life. Foods good for eye health vary from fruits to vegetables to proteins. But all foods for eye health include vital vitamins and minerals that are essential to maintaining good eyesight.
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Your ability to see is probably one of your most valued functions of your body. Keeping your vision operating at a high level and taking good care of your eyes is a great way to increase your quality of life. There are numerous eye problems and conditions that can make it more difficult for you to see clearly, especially as our bodies age. Some of these conditions are hereditary and simply arise over time. But research is also demonstrating that when we eat a diet that is rich in the foods, vitamins, and minerals that can help support the health of our vision, we can maintain the quality of our sight for years to come.
Top Foods for Eye Health
The best foods for eye health include some items you’ve probably heard of: carrots and fish. But certain nuts, kale, and even oysters have been shown in the research to be beneficial to your eyes. These foods are all already a part of a balanced diet, which makes it even easier to incorporate them into your daily regimen and routine. We’ll dive into the specific vitamins and minerals you want to make sure you are ingesting in order to preserve your eye health.
How Eye Health Works
What keeps your eyes healthy? How do you know when you may be experiencing eye issues? When does it become time to visit a doctor? It’s important to know the answers to all of these questions so that you can ensure that you are keeping your vision in great shape.
Your vision is actually a complex system of organs, nerves, and brain tissue that makes it possible to see the external world. The eye is an organ that was developed to interpret information from visible light. The eye takes the information gathered and then sends it through the optic nerve into neural networks in the brain, where a representation of the external world is created.
The visual system in the body performs a number of complicated jobs. The visual system receives light and creates images, identifies and categorizes objects that are seen, gauges the distances between objects in our field, and guides the body around objects in the visual field. When our visual system and our eyes are functioning, we are said to have the capacity for visual perception. A lack of this capacity is called blindness.
The Structure of the Eye
There are eight parts of the eye that encompass the visual system. There is the eye, including the retina, the optic nerve, the optic chiasma, the optic tract, the lateral geniculate body, the optic radiation, the visual cortex. and the visual association cortex.
The eye is a complex organ made up of numerous parts. But the most essential parts of the eye are the cornea, the pupil, the lens, and the retina. The retina is the core of the visual processing that occurs within the eye. The retina is made up of special body cells called photoreceptor cells. The various cells that compose the retina are responsible for our ability to absorb light and distinguish color.
The optic nerve receives information from the eye regarding the images that the eye has perceived. This nerve then sends the information to a few areas of the brain. About 90 percent of the information from the optic nerve is sent to the thalamus and the lateral geniculate nucleus. Each eye has its own optic nerve.
Another part of the visual system is the optic chiasm. This is where the optic nerves from both eyes meet. This occurs at the base of the hypothalamus of the brain. It is at the optic chiasm that the two parts of the eye meet and then split according to the visual field. What is interesting here is that the visual information from the left side of the brain is then sent to the right side of the brain. And the visual information from the right side of the brain is then sent to the left side of the brain.
From there, the visual information travels through the optic tract into the lateral geniculate nucleus, which has six layers. It then goes through the optic radiation, and ultimately to the visual cortex.
Believe it or not, the visual cortex is the largest system in the entire human brain! It is found at the back of the brain, above the cerebellum. Even when we are in a resting state, our visual cortex is still very active.
Basics of Eye Health
To more deeply understand why the best foods for eye health are helpful, it’s good to have a basic understanding of how eye health works. The truth is, your eyes are a very developed system in your brain and one of the most complex sensory organs. As stated above, your sight takes up way more space in your brain than any of your other senses combined.
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You probably know someone in your life who has to wear corrective lenses. The majority of people who need glasses or contact lenses are either farsighted or nearsighted. Another common impairment is astigmatism. All of these issues are caused by refractive disorders and do not indicate that any aspect of the eye is truly unhealthy in any way.
But there are a number of troublesome conditions that can stem from diseases of the eye and can indicate poor eye health. These conditions include retinal detachment, cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
Retinal detachment, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts are the most common diseases of the eye. Retinal detachment occurs when the special photosensitive cells that line the back of the eye begin to detach from the eyeball, or holes develop in the cells. This can accelerate quickly, causing liquid in the eye to leak behind the retinal cells and cutting the eyes off from nutrient supply. This condition will not cause pain, but it is very serious and needs urgent medical attention. If you don’t quickly re-attach the retinal wall, then you can end up becoming permanently blind.
Glaucoma is another major eye issue that over two million people in the United States suffer from. It is one of the major reasons that individuals lose their ability to see. There are three main types of glaucoma: chronic open-angle glaucoma, which is the most common kind, acute closed-angle glaucoma, which occurs in less than 10% of cases, and secondary glaucoma, which can be caused by other diseases or steroid drugs. The chronic open-angle type of glaucoma can come on gradually and is caused by elevated pressure levels in the eye. But once it takes over, it can cause near blindness before a person realizes they are suffering from the condition.
Cataracts is a serious eye condition that often develops as we age. It is essentially a clouding of the lens of the eye. It makes it difficult for the eye to have clear vision. Eventually this causes us to have a gradual experience of blurred vision. Some individuals who have cataracts find that their visual field appears hazy. It is even more difficult for people who have cataracts to see in dim light, and often they cannot drive at night.
Conjunctivitis is a common eye condition that many individuals experience multiple times in life. It indicates an inflammation in the membranes that cover your eyeballs and your inner eyelids. There are three main forms of conjunctivitis: bacterial conjunctivitis, viral conjunctivitis, and ophthalmia neonatorum.
The number one reason that people in the United States lose their vision is macular degeneration. It is closely associated with aging, as the typical age when symptoms appear is after 55. The macula is the center of the retina, and when it degenerates, you lose your ability to focus near and far, as the center of your visual field is impaired.
How to Keep Your Eyes Healthy
With all of the various issues that can arise with your eyes, especially as you age, you are probably wondering what you can do at home to ensure that your eyes stay healthy and functioning at a very high level. And because the interpretation of visual information takes up so much space inside of your brain, you know that when you nourish your visual system you maintain your brain health as well.
So, what are the top foods for eye health? Luckily for anyone who’d like to maintain a healthy and balanced diet, there are a wide range of foods good for eye health. Here are the best foods for eye health that you should incorporate into your diet today.
The primary reason that fish is such an excellent food for eye health is because it contains Omega-3 fatty acids. Fish can easily be incorporated into a healthy diet.
Nuts & Legumes, Especially Almonds
Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E that can help you restore your vision to tip-top shape and prevent any extended degeneration from happening over time.
Milk & Yogurt
Milk and yogurt are great things to add to your eye health regimen because they are great sources of calcium. Zinc and vitamin A are also included in the milk and yogurt, which are great for your eye health.
There are so many reasons that bell peppers are a great thing to add to your diet and that they are one of the best foods for eye health. The central mineral in the food is great for your eyes, and bell peppers are a great source of vitamin A and vitamin C.
Citrus Fruits, Especially Oranges
Citrus fruit is a great way to boost your eye health. Why? Because it is another great source of vitamin C. This can ensure that you have great eye health for years to come.
Leafy Green Vegetables, Especially Kale
Leafy green vegetables are a staple of any healthy diet and that includes a diet that is focused on eye health. Kale is one of the top foods for eye health, primarily because it contains essential antioxidants that can prevent eye health from waning as you age.
For many years individuals have associated carrots with good eye health for good reason. The reason that carrots are orange is because they are filled with beta carotene, which is a great addition to ensure you have excellent eye health.
For similar reasons to carrots, sweet potatoes are a great choice for individuals who are interested in ensuring they have excellent eye health. There are many great ways to incorporate sweet potatoes in your diet as well.
Eggs are another excellent addition to your diet for foods for eye health. There are some great antioxidants that aren’t created by the body that can really boost your eye health.
Chia seeds are a more recent ingredient to be added as a great addition to a very healthy diet. And it’s not surprising that your chia seeds can help you maintain great eye health for years to come.
These legumes are an excellent source of zinc, which is why they are such a great addition to a diet of foods for eye health.
Foods for Eye Health: Fish
Do you enjoy eating fish? It is one of the best foods for eye health. The primary reason that this food is recommended so often is because it contains omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered fats that are healthy for you and part of a balanced diet. They can encourage positive development of the visual system for children who are in the process of brain development. Omega-3 fatty acids also improve the function and health of the retina.
Another benefit to incorporating fish into your diet is that it can keep your eyes moisturized. Fish are an excellent protein to add into your meal plan two to three days out of the week. If possible, purchase your fish from local sources or from providers that are organically and sustainably raised. This ensures that your fish will have the highest amount of Omega-3 fatty acids possible. Farm raised salmon is particularly problematic and should be avoided if you are attempting to have the most vitamins and Omega-3 fatty acids.
Fish is very easy to prepare and often does not need to be cooked for very long. Almost any fresh herb can taste delicious when prepared with your fish, especially sustainably sourced fresh salmon.
Foods for Eye Health: Nuts & Legumes, Especially Almonds.
Another one of the best foods for eye health is nuts and legumes, which include seeds. Almonds are particularly supportive for individuals who are trying to improve their eye health. This is because almonds are particularly high in vitamin E, which is one of the most essential vitamins in preventing the degeneration of healthy tissue within your visual system. Vitamin E has been shown to prevent the molecules that can cause healthy tissues to deteriorate. This makes legumes and especially almonds the perfect choices for anyone who wants to make sure they can prevent the macular degeneration that can occur as they age.
Vitamin E can also help prevent cataracts. The recommended amount of vitamin E is about 15 milligrams every day. If you have a serving size of almonds, which is typically measured as ¼ cup or approximately 20 nuts, has about 7.5 milligrams of vitamin E. This means if you have two serving sizes of almonds per day, you would be fulfilling the suggested serving of vitamin E per day.
Of course, almonds are not the only nut or seed that have been shown to have very high levels of vitamin E. Other excellent choices if you are looking to eat the top foods for eye health include hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, and peanuts. All of these are very healthy choices if you are seeking to make sure that you are receiving the level of vitamin E that you need. It is good to keep in mind that some of these snacks can be high in calories, so it’s always a good idea to limit your intake to three servings in one day.
Foods for Eye Health: Milk & Yogurt
A great way to ensure that you have terrific eye health is by adding milk and yogurt into your diet. Both of these products are some of the best foods for eye health. The reason that these dairy products can be so helpful to your eyes is because they both contain the mineral zinc, and they also contain vitamin A. Zinc is a powerful mineral that plays an important role in your eye. Your retina is one of the most essential parts of your eye and your entire visual system. Underneath the retina there is a special type of vascular tissue called choroid. Zinc is an essential nutrient and mineral for that tissue to remain healthy. This helps prevent retinal detachment. This mineral can also assist you when you are trying to maintain a high level of night vision, and it can prevent cataracts from forming. Vitamin A works to protect your cornea and boosts your overall immune system in powerful ways.
Although some individuals have trouble digesting milk or yogurt products because of lactose intolerance, for those that do not suffer from lactose intolerance, they can easily add milk and yogurt into their diet in a multitude of ways. This includes adding milk to your healthy cereal, putting yogurt into sauces or dressings, or mixing fresh fruit with plain yogurt in the morning. You can also add milk to your tea or your coffee in the morning to benefit from the vitamins and minerals it offers you to promote your eye health.
Foods for Eye Health: Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are a colorful addition to many meals and also one of the top foods for eye health. Bell peppers are one of the foods that are good for eye health because they contain many of the essential vitamins that can assist the eye in its development. The vitamins that are contained within red, yellow, or green bell peppers include vitamin A and vitamin C. In fact, just one serving of these peppers includes 100% of the recommended daily value of these vitamins.
The best way to consume and benefit from the nutritional value of these peppers is to consume them raw or only lightly cooked in a small amount of butter or cooking oil. The best cooking oils to use are coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil. Another great benefit to consuming bell peppers is the fact that they can help you reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer. This is a great side benefit to consuming bell peppers, and of course they also help reduce the risk of macular degeneration. They are a low-calorie food that also contains fiber, so you can go ahead and binge on bell peppers without risk of over-doing it. They’re a terrific choice for snacks or as a centerpiece to a meal.
Foods for Eye health: Citrus fruits, Especially Oranges
Citrus fruits are a delicious addition to almost any meal and have become a popular ingredient for sauces or dressings. You can also add citrus into smoothies and make terrific juice blends from a variety of citrus fruits. One of the main vitamins that is a big part of citrus fruit of all kinds is vitamin C. Vitamin C plays an important role in maintaining your eye health and ensuring that your eye functions at a very high level. This is because vitamin C contributes to healthy blood vessels, especially around your eyes.
This is essential to eye health because it helps prevent cataracts from developing, especially in combination with other nutrients. When the blood vessels around your eye are healthy, you can also combat the development of macular degeneration that is associated with age. Understanding the role vitamin C plays in the healthy development of blood vessels around the eye is key to maintaining your eye health as well as the health of many organ systems in your body. Another great way to incorporate oranges or other citrus fruits you enjoy is making a fruit salad or a tart.
Foods for Eye Health: Leafy Green Vegetables, Especially Kale
If you have ever read any lists about foods for improving overall health, you’ve probably been told that kale is an excellent choice all around. So, it probably doesn’t come as a great surprise that kale and other leafy green vegetables are some of the best foods for eye health. The central reason is because of the great variety of minerals and vitamins that are contained within kale and leafy green vegetables.
Kale has the added benefit of including many excellent antioxidants called lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are particularly beneficial because they are not made within the body, so you can only receive the benefits of these nutrients by adding them into your diet. A regular serving of kale is usually measured as 1 ½ cup of kale. This serving includes about 11 milligrams of lutein. This is actually over the recommended amount of lutein that you need every day, which is put at 10 milligrams a day. Another great way to receive the recommended amount of lutein in your diet is to include spinach.
A great way to eat kale is to make white bean and kale soup. This is a delicious soup that can be made with vegetable or chicken stock. Another great addition to white bean and kale soup is red peppers! You can also make kale chips by breaking up kale pieces and placing them in the oven to be baked for 20 to 25 minutes. There are a lot of fun ways to incorporate kale into your diet, and it can even be easily grown in your garden in most climates.
Foods for Eye Health: Carrots
If there is one food that is well known as one of the best foods for eye health, it’s carrots. One reason is because carrots contain vitamin A, but the other central reason is because carrots contain beta carotene. Beta carotene has been shown to help prevent eye infections and other eye conditions like glaucoma and cataracts. Beta carotene has been proven to be beneficial to the tissues around the eye. Eye doctors emphasize that while devouring carrots won’t improve the status of your eyesight, the influx of beta carotene can absolutely prevent your eyes from deteriorating. This has direct preventive effects on diseases like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Carrots are a very easy vegetable to eat on the go. They are excellent raw and can be easily added to salads. They also go great with a variety of dressings like ranch, Italian, and many others. Another great snack pairs carrots and peanut butter. However you eat your carrots, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve eaten a vegetable that includes so many of the amazing vitamins that you need to maintain great eye health. Truly, because of the unique combination of vitamins and beta carotene, carrots are some of the best foods good for eye health.
Foods for Eye Health: Sweet Potatoes
Another one of the best things to eat if you are trying to ensure that you have great eye health is sweet potatoes or yams. Yams especially contain beta carotene, which is an excellent booster to the eyes. A great way to enjoy sweet potatoes is to cut your vegetable into thin strips and bake them. It can also be very delicious to simply roast them in the oven.
It’s easy to see that yams contain beta carotene because of the beautiful orange color that so many yams have. There are many other excellent health benefits to sweet potatoes, and great ways to incorporate them into healthy meals. Sweet potato soup or blending sweet potatoes with bell peppers and kale are other great ways to enjoy them.
Foods for Eye Health: Eggs
Eggs have been shown to be one of the top foods for eye health. This is because egg yolks include some of the most important vitamins and minerals that are needed to maintain your eye health. Egg yolks include vitamin A, lutein, zinc, and zeaxanthin. All of those vitamins and minerals make eggs an incredible boost to almost every aspect of eye health.
Vitamin A is a great vitamin because of the benefits to the cornea, a crucial part of the eye that is right on the surface. Age-related macular degeneration and cataracts are also helped by antioxidants that are contained in eggs, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Zinc is an important nutrient to eye health because it can encourage the retina to stay in tip-top shape. The retina can be found at the back of the eye. When you have appropriate levels of zinc in your system, you can lower your chances of experiencing retinal detachment, which can be very detrimental.
Another excellent aspect of eggs is that they are a very versatile ingredient that can be incorporated into a wide variety of recipes. Truly, they can be eaten at any time of day. If you want to eat them on the go, you can always boil a number of them ahead of time and keep them in the fridge to munch on when you have a free moment. For all of these reasons, eggs are truly one of the best foods for eye health.
Foods for Eye Health: Chia Seeds
When you are considering which foods for eye health to incorporate into your diet, you should consider experimenting with chia seeds. Chia seeds are a food that has become extremely popular in the United States over the last five to 10 years. Previously, it was a little-known grain that was not a very popular ingredient. But now you can find chia seeds being added to a wide range of recipes.
Chia seeds are a very healthy ingredient that have many of the vitamins and minerals that are considered essential for eye health. Chia seeds include more Omega 3s than salmon or other fish, as much or more calcium than milk or yogurt, and more antioxidants than blackberries or blueberries. They can also boost your fiber intake, making them a great overall choice if you’re looking to include a well-rounded option to your diet.
Chia seeds can be added to smoothies and juices. They can also be a great thing to add into your water. You can also add them to certain baking recipes for muffins and other baked goods. There are a wide variety of ways that you can enjoy chia seeds into your diets.
Foods for Eye Health: Black-Eyed Peas
Is it just a coincidence that one of the best foods for eye health has the word eye in its name? Probably not. There are so many benefits from these amazing beans, and truly legumes in general are seen as one of the top foods for eye health. The reason is because these peas include zinc. Zinc has been shown to protect the eyes from retinal detachment because it helps the eye recover from damage Other foods that can contain a lot of helpful zinc include red meat, poultry, and oysters.
There are a lot of fun ways to eat black-eyed peas. You can easily toss them into your slow-cooker or crock pot. Add in the spices and other veggies you’d like to simmer down with the peas along with chicken or vegetable broth, and put the peas on low for many hours. The great part about tossing all of those ingredients into the crock pot is that it’s cooking while you’re doing other things! That means you can enjoy a great meal as soon as you get home at the end of the day without any extra effort.
The Most Important Vitamins
There are a lot of vitamins in all of the recommended foods for eye health. It can be difficult to remember which ones are the most important specifically for eyes; here’s the list so that you can keep them all straight:
Just Add Water
If you’ve ever read any health recommendations, you have probably heard that drinking lots of water is essential to maintaining good health. The same goes for when you are trying to keep up your eye health. Water is an excellent way to maintain the health of your eyes. Keeping your entire body properly moisturized, especially your eyes, is very important. When you drink the proper amount of water, you can know that you are staying healthy for years to come.
Putting It All Together
Understanding the risks to eye health, especially as you age, is enough to motivate you to eat a diet that will support your eye health. It’s essential that you have a diet that can be rich in all of the vitamins and minerals mentioned above, so that you can feel confident and healthy moving forward. Retinal detachment, cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration are all conditions that can accelerate as you age. And all of them can cause serious issues with your sight, including blindness.
Everyone relies on their sight for so many functions; it could be seriously hard to imagine going without it, even for one day. That’s why it’s so important to take in the right vitamins and minerals to maintain your eye health throughout your life.
The acronym ACE can potentially help you remember which vitamins are essential to your eye health. ACE stands for vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Together these three vitamins make up the most powerful antidote to the numerous issues that can keep you from successfully maintaining your eye health for years to come.
When you add zinc to the mix, then you truly increase the chances that your macular degeneration will not accelerate. This is a powerful combination to ensure that your eye health doesn’t get worse over time. By developing good eating habits and becoming very mindful of what you are taking in, then you’ll be sure to have the eye health that you’ll want for the rest of your life.
Foods for Eye Health
So, if you’re someone who wants to keep up with all the best foods for eye health, you can do your own research. Considering the best foods for eye health that are listed here, you can also discover new foods good for eye health through taking note of the important vitamins and minerals for your eye health and finding other foods that offer similar nourishment options.
Here’s to great foods for eye health! Hopefully with this information you can ensure that you have great eye health and excellent vision for the ‘forseeable’ future!