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Maintain Your Vision with a Healthy Diet

While experiencing changes in vision may be a natural part of aging, this does not mean decreased vision is inevitable for seniors simply because they’re getting older. Nor does it mean that the clarity and longevity of one’s eyesight is something beyond their control.

The truth is that during your golden years, your eye health and the quality of your vision will be heavily influenced by your lifestyle choices over the years.

Among the most important of these lifestyle factors has to do with your diet and nutrition: Does your diet include foods that are good for your eyes?

How Diet Affects Eyesight

Despite the prevalence of age-related eye conditions among the elderly population, research has shown that foods rich in certain nutrients can actually reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, if not prevent them altogether.

The connection between what you eat and how well you see has been well-documented in recent years, and it’s left no doubt that a person’s diet can play a key role in their vision and eye health as they age.

One could even argue that certain foods are more or less necessary for optimal vision, and can go a long way toward protecting your eyesight throughout life.

What exactly are these foods, and how can they possibly sustain your eyes and vision as you grow older?

5 Foods to Keep Your Eyes Healthy & Strong

  1. Kale & Spinach

As if you needed more of a reason to incorporate dark leafy greens into your diet, foods like kale and spinach are filled with lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that help protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Whereas zeaxanthin is rather scarce, lutein can be found in a number of different foods, such as squash, carrots, certain other fruits and veggies with a similar orange or yellow color. Indeed, research has shown that consuming yellow and green vegetables can help prevent age-related macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of blindness.

But when it comes to lutein-rich foods, kale and spinach certainly top the list. Research has shown that 10 milligrams of lutein each day can help prevent vision loss; in dietary terms, this equates to eating ½ cup of spinach every day. Making this addition to your diet really isn’t all that difficult: you can buy salads that contain spinach leaves, blend kale into your morning smoothies, or perhaps cook spinach or kale as a side to your dinner each night. There are many ways to easily incorporate dark leafy greens into your dietary routine, so it’s just a matter of finding the one that works best for you. Your eyes are sure to thank you for it later.

  1. 2.    Eggs

In addition to dark leafy greens, eggs (particularly egg yokes) are also very good sources of zeaxanthin and lutein, along with an assortment of other beneficial nutrients and vitamins. There’s no doubt that this go-to breakfast food packs a powerful punch of nutrients which are beneficial to your eyes and health in general – just watch out for the cholesterol intake.

It’s important to note that these chemicals will be most beneficial when the foods they’re part of are consumed raw, or as close to raw as possible. When you heat up your eggs – say, to make an omelet in the morning – the lutein and zeaxanthin inside the yoke gets damaged, which means your body doesn’t absorb all the nutritional benefits. Thus, if you’re very intent on preventing AMD, you may want to consider channeling your inner Rocky Balboa, and finding ways to consume your eggs raw. That way, you’re sure to get the biggest antioxidant bang for your buck.

A tip to remember: darker egg yolks tend to be more nutritious than lighter ones.

  1. 3.    Salmon

In order for your cells to work properly, they need fats such as omega-3. Nowhere is this need clearer than in your eye, where a concentration of omega-3 fat DHA in the retina provides structural support for the cell membranes, allowing them to boost eye health and protect retinal function.

Considering that fish is the ideal source of omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, it’s not surprising that eating fish has been linked to improved eye health, with some research even suggesting that eating more foods rich in these fats may slow macular degeneration. But the key with incorporating more fish into your diet is to ensure you don’t go overboard and risk mercury contamination, as fish have become heavily contaminated in recent years because of environmental pollution.

For this reason, wild-caught Alaskan salmon is probably the ideal type of fish to incorporate into your diet for improved eye health, as they’re not only filled with omega-3s, but they’re also low in mercury. Plus, in addition to DHA fatty acid, wild salmon also contain astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant that has been found to have protective benefits against a number of eye-related problems.

  1. 4.    Carrots

When your parents told you as a child that carrots were good for your eyes that was no white lie designed to get you to eat all your veggies. Although eating carrots may not improve your eyesight, that doesn’t mean it can’t help protect it; in fact, carrots contain a lot of Vitamin A, which can help reduce the impact of AMD and cataracts, according to a number of studies.

  1. 5.    Berries

Berries are filled with antioxidants, but one in particular has been shown to have extensive health benefits: anthocyanins. Of all the berries out in nature, black currants contain the highest levels of this antioxidant. Next would be the bilberry, a close relative of the blueberry. In fact, the bilberry has been shown to help inhibit or even reverse macular degeneration.

Clearly, the right berries can pack a big nutritional punch, providing you with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can ultimately improve or maintain your vision.