You may have heard that carrots are good for your eyes. But are there other foods that support eye health?
Getting the right nutrients for your eyes through food is one of the best ways to preserve healthy vision. And it’s not all that hard.
Before we look more closely at the best food for eye health, let’s understand why some food is better for your eyes than other.
What Food Is Good for Your Eyes?
Eating food that is good for your heart can also help keep your eyes healthy. That’s because your eyes get the oxygen and nutrients they need from tiny arteries that branch from larger arteries.
Specific nutrients have been proven to sustain eye health. What’s more, some of them, if consumed regularly, can reduce the risk of common eye diseases such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
According to the influential Age-Related Eye Disease Study, the follow-up 2013 study, and other research, the essential nutrients for eye health are:
- Vitamin A – Your eyes need vitamin A to maintain a clear cornea (the transparent covering at the front of the eye) and enable vision in low light conditions. Vitamin A also plays a key role in preventing your eyes from becoming dry.
- Vitamin E – Protects cells in your eyes from free radicals, harmful molecules that may damage them over time.
- Vitamin C – This vitamin is an antioxidant that also protects the eye from free radicals. It helps repair tissue and plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy immune system.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin – These antioxidants that occur together in food are dietary carotenoids found in the macula, a part of the retina at the back of the eye responsible for detailed vision. They help protect the macula from oxidative stress.
- Zinc – Zinc also occurs naturally in the retina and the vascular tissue of the eye. It may shield your eyes from damage caused by light and help prevent the degeneration of the macula over time.
- Copper – Copper helps support the working of antioxidant enzymes in the eye. Copper deficiency may cause vision loss.
- Omega-3 fatty acid DHA – Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) occurs in retinal photoreceptors and has anti-inflammatory properties. It may help prevent eye diseases that seem to have an inflammatory basis, such as AMD.
So, what foods should you eat to get these nutrients?
Best Foods for Your Eyes
An eye health diet is rich in leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in unhealthy fats such as saturated fats. It includes nuts and seeds and organic eggs and fatty fish.
Important: Aim for at least five servings of fruit and veggies every day, and two of fatty fish every week.
Leafy greens are a reliable source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.
Leafy greens you can add to your eye health diet include kale, spinach, Romaine lettuce, collards, and turnip greens. Eat them in salads and blend them into green smoothies.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are good food for eyesight because they provide vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. Make almonds, walnuts, cashews, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and sunflower seeds part of your diet.
You can eat these as snacks and add them to salads or cereal bowls. However, don’t overeat them as they are rich in calories and fat.
Oily fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which sustain vision and may help you avoid getting dry eyes if you work on a computer every day.
Some of the richest omega-3 fish include mackerel, tuna, trout, sardines, salmon, and anchovies.
Tip: Choose organic fish grown in fisheries whenever possible. Fish fat easily accumulates harmful pollutants from water sources. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can take an algae-based omega-3 DHA supplement instead.
Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, and lemons are dependable sources of vitamin C. As we’ve seen, this vitamin has important antioxidant benefits that help keep your eyes healthy.
Eating oranges and grapefruit whole is better than juicing them as you get more fiber and antioxidants. You also reduce the use of sweeteners.
Beans are another food for vision you should eat. Kidney beans, lima beans, and black-eyed peas provide both copper and zinc. They are also rich in protein.
You can include them in many recipes for eye health such as salads and vegetable soups.
It’s better to cook beans at home even if boiling them takes a while rather than buy them canned. Canned beans tend to have fewer nutrients and lots of added salt to preserve them.
Sweet potatoes are more nutritious and healthier for your eyes than regular potatoes. They have beta carotene and vitamin E, too.
Tip: Get the most eye health nutrients from sweet potatoes by boiling them for up to 20 minutes instead of frying or baking them.
No list of food for eyesight would be complete without carrots. Love them or hate them, carrots get their color from beta carotene, which the body uses to make vitamin A. They are also a source of readily available vitamin A.
Eating carrots often will not miraculously improve your eyesight, but it sure can sustain it. We've highlighted the eye health benefits of carrots in our post on 5 reasons to eat more carrots.
Tip: Cooking carrots increases the bioavailability of beta-carotene so make sure to add them to soups, stews, and stir-fries.
Organic eggs are an important source of highly bioavailable lutein and zeaxanthin. They also have some zinc, plus vitamins E and C. They’re one of the best everyday foods for the eyes.
While it doesn’t have any of the eye health nutrients we’ve been talking about, water rightfully deserves a mention among the best foods for eyesight.
Water hydrates your body. Staying properly hydrated is crucial for your tear glands to produce enough tears to lubricate the surface of your eyes. Drink water regularly as dehydration can cause dry eyes.
What About Eye Health Supplements?
If you’re careful with what you eat, you can get most of the nutrients you need for eye health through your food. But a busy schedule, irregular meals, stress, and other factors may get in the way.
A plant-based eye health supplement can give your eyes a much-needed antioxidant boost and complement your nutrient intake without the risk of side effects.
SightC from Sightsage brings together the health benefits of goji berries, turmeric, Cherokee rose, dandelion, and other superfoods in a full suite of essential nutrients for eye health neatly packed into easy-to-take vegan capsules.
You can take it with you everywhere—at work, on travels, on holidays.Keep your eyes health with SightC.