Get the Skinny on Foods to Help Protect Our Eyes

We’re always talking about foods that are good for our waistline, our hearts, and even our skin, but how about foods that are good for our eyes, as well?   In today’s Get the Skinny: the top foods that might help to protect our vision, and how to incorporate more of these foods into our diet!

There’s no guarantee that eating these top foods – or any one particular product, for that matter - will prevent eye disease, but every little bit helps.  Plus, these nutrient-dense foods provide full-body benefits, & the fact that they might also help our eyes is just one more reason to eat them.

Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness for people aged 50 and older in the US.  It destroys the macula of the eye, which is what allows us to read, see fine detail, & recognize faces. And, Cataracts refers to the clouding of the lens of the eye. By age 80 more than half of Americans have cataracts or have had cataract surgery.

So what can help?

LUTEIN & ZEAXANTHIN:  They’re carotenoids found in the retina and macula of the eye, thought to protect against light-induced oxidative damage, which may help to reduce the risk of AMD and catarcts.

Studies have shown that people with higher levels of lutein and zeaxanthin are at a reduced risk for AMD.

Foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin: Spinach, kale, broccoli, & eggs

VITAMINS A, C, & E:  These antioxidants may help prevent and slow the progression of cataracts and macular degeneration, in part based on theory that oxidation can lead to the development and progression of eye disease.

Vitamin A:  ½ cup baked sweet potato, ½ cup pumpkin, or 1 cup of baby carrots each provide more than a day’s worth of vitamin A.

Vitamin C: One red grapefruit or a heaping cup of strawberries = more than a day’s worth of vitamin C

Vitamin E: A single ounce of almonds or sunflower seeds has half a day’s worth of vitamin E

ZINC: It’s found in high concentrations in the part of the retina affected by AMD, and our body’s concentrations of zinc have also been shown to decline with age.   

Studies have found that supplementing the diet with zinc alone, or 80 mg of zinc along with antioxidants (500mg vitamin C, 400 IU vitamin E, 15 mg beta-carotene) may help to decrease the risk of AMD.

Oysters are top food source, with 76 mg zinc in 6 oysters.  (RDA is 8 mg for women, 11 mg for men)

Beef is also a good source, with 6 mg zinc in three ounces of cooked beef tenderloin.

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