It doesn’t take a genius to know that our vision is important – and thank goodness, because I’m no genius. Aside from the day-to-day ritual of living, good vision is essential to blog-reading, and we don’t want to screw that up now, do we? Everywhere you look (no pun intended) a myriad selection of vitamins and supplements are available to support good eye health and prevent disease. I for one, however, much prefer to eat my vitamins and minerals than taking supplements. So I thought I would do a quick rundown of five foods (and their respective vitamins or minerals) that will keep your eyes in tip-top shape.
Vitamin E Sunflower Seeds – Yup, that favorite snack of your little league coach is also terrific for your eyes. These little seeds (however you like them) are perfect for helping to prevent macular degeneration, the primary eye problem faced by most people, and the one that will get the most attention in this post. They only provide about 80% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin E intake, so you may want to pair them with a supplement or another food. If you’re not into sunflower seeds, or can’t have them for medical reasons, you can also get plenty of bang for your buck from almonds or spinach. While they don’t pack the same punch as the seeds, they will still give you a substantial amount of Vitamin E, in addition to other health benefits.
Lutein Dark Leafy Greens – This element (in conjunction with another, zeaxanthin) is ace for helping to stave off the growth of cataracts and that other baddie, the previously-mentioned macular degeneration (called AMD by professionals.) And the best place to acquire your secret weapon? Dark leafy green vegetables such as kale, collard or turnip greens, chard and spinach. They bring almost 40,000 mcg (that’s micrograms) of lutein to the table, and have endless preparations and presentations. Not wild about eating green things? Go look at your spice rack; both paprika and cayenne pepper are great sources as well.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids Flaxseed – It shouldn’t be too surprising that Omega 3s are included in this list; they’re basically good for just about whatever ails you. As far as your eyes are concerned, not only do they help stave off AMD, but they help to treat and/or prevent dry eyes. Providing over 100% of the DRI of Omega 3s, flaxseed is the greatest source available, which can be purchased whole or in oil form – either is suitable – and is commonly sold in breads and crackers. But you can also find it in chia seeds as well, and there is always the old standby, salmon. Why bother with smelly fish oil pills when you can enjoy the buttery goodness of the real thing?
Selenium Tuna – If you are a major seafood fan, then you’re already one step closer to having healthier eyes. Selenium will help to keep those peepers sharp and in shape, and the champion of selenium delivery is tuna. And when I say champion…one serving of tuna will provide over 200% of you daily recommended intake. However, if you have ethical issues about consuming tuna (or just don’t like it), you can also get your money’s worth from shrimp and – if you have a taste for it – sardines.
Beta Carotene Sweet Potatoes – If you are a long-time reader of this blog, you’re probably wondering if I’m ever going to stop talking about sweet potatoes. I mean, I mentioned them in this post, and then they got their own post here. There were others, but I’ll stop there. I swear I’m not being biased; they really are just an amazing little tuber. Coming in with over 11,000 mcg of beta carotene per serving, and around 100 calories, they are miles ahead of any other food source. Good for your skin, good for your eyes, and I’m sure it covers a lot of other bases as well. If you just can’t bring yourself to like them however, there’s always the tried-and-true classic carrot. And again, dark leafy green vegetables are and additional source to consider.
So that’s the skinny on taking care of your eyes via your diet. Please continue to take your supplements if you wish, but don’t forget that throwing these foods in can support the benefits you’re already getting – and it tastes better. Keep in mind that I am not an ophthalmologist, and am definitely not claiming any in-depth medical knowledge. However, if you’re interested in getting a little more information, I do recommend checking out www.allaboutvision.com. It was easy to navigate and seemed very informative. So be sure to eat your green vegetables, get plenty of rest, and I’ll “see” you next week!