As more and more scientific research comes out on nutrition and the function of vitamins, nutrients, and enzymes in the human body, the saying, “You are what you eat,” becomes more and more accurate. Of course, if you eat a cookie, you are not going to turn into a cookie, or if you eat a carrot, you won’t become a carrot. However, the compounds which our foods contain directly contribute to the functioning or non-functioning of the organs and systems inside our bodies, including our eyes.
Although eating a carrot, won’t turn you into one, it could improve your eyesight. We rounded up a list of the top three foods to eat to sharpen your eyesight and preserve the health of your eyes.
1. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits (such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruit) contain lots of vitamin C, an antioxidant which directly protects the cells in your eyes and throughout the body from free radicals. This antioxidant safeguards the cells in your eyes from damage which contributes to sight-threatening diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
In addition to rounding up harmful free radicals in your body and preventing cell damage, vitamin C has also been shown to be vital to the function of cells inside the retina, the structure in the back of the eye which senses light and converts it into electrical signals sent through the optic nerve to the brain to create the images you see. Without enough vitamin C, your retina cannot function properly, which means you cannot see properly.
If you want the benefits of vitamin C, but want to avoid the high amounts of sugar found in citrus fruits, berries are a great alternative. For example, strawberries are rich in vitamin C but contain much less natural sugar.
2. Fish (and/or Nuts)
Fish, such as salmon, anchovies, and sardines, contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. These omega-3s have been shown to strengthen cellular membranes, reinforcing structures inside the eyes. They also directly contribute to eye development, boost eyesight and have been shown to reduce the severity of chronic dry eye.
Commonly referred to as “healthy fats,” omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to impart all sorts of potential health benefits to the body. In addition to bolstering structures in the eyes, they have also shown potential with regard to the function, longevity, and health of the brain.
Although nuts and seeds contain considerable amounts of the healthy fats, some studies have shown better results with respect to eye health when participants ingested the animal-based omega-3s found in fresh fish, instead of those sourced from plants.
3. Orange and Green Vegetables
The third eye health powerhouse food really comprises several foods. You have probably heard that carrots are good for your eyesight, and they are. Carrots and other orange vegetables like sweet potatoes and orange peppers contain beta-carotene. After eating an orange vegetable, your body converts its beta-carotene into vitamin A, which safeguards the cornea (the clear surface of the eye), helps to sharpen your vision, improves your ability to see at night and protects your eyes from infection.
In addition to orange veggies, leafy greens, like kale, spinach, Swiss chard and collard greens, contain carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin). These antioxidants are stored in abundance within the retina and macula (structures inside the eye responsible for sight). These nutrients round up free radicals which could otherwise contribute to the degeneration of vital eye structures, potentially leading to macular degeneration and even cataracts.
A Healthy Diet Equals Healthy Eyes
These top three food categories are great sources of the vitamins and nutrients which are essential to maintaining healthy eyes and sharp eyesight. In addition to adding these eye-healthy foods to your regular diet, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet will do wonders for not only your eyes but the health of your entire body. Limiting your sugar intake and replacing simple carbohydrates with whole grains, like quinoa, steel cut oats, and brown rice, to control your blood pressure and glycemic index will also protect your eye health from conditions which can harm your eyesight, such as diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension).