Choosing healthy foods for your eyes over processed foods is only the first step to improving your eye health through good nutrition. Also important is to cook foods the right way to preserve the nutrients that your eyes need to stay healthy.

Vegetables are one of the best foods for your eyes, but how you prepare them could make a difference to your eye health.

Did you know that cooking carrots increases their beta-carotene content (an oxidant your eyes need)? On the other hand, boiling bell peppers decreases their vitamin C content by around 25%.

Should You Eat Vegetables Raw or Cooked?

In recent years, the raw food diet and certain vegan and vegetarian diets have promoted the idea that eating vegetables raw is better for your health. However, scientific research contradicts this.

When you cook certain vegetables, you break down their cellular wall. This process releases more nutrients. You also make them easier to digest.

A good example are mushrooms, which are indigestible if you don’t cook them. When cooked, mushrooms release B vitamins and other nutrients that are good for your eyes.

Mushrooms in a frying pan with leeks

What’s more, eating vegetables raw can increase the risk of infections, especially if they are not properly washed. This is especially true for people who have low immunity because of disease or chemotherapy.

That’s not to say eating vegetables raw is all bad. Bell peppers, as we’ve seen, have more vitamin C when eaten raw. Ideally, you want to combine eating both raw and cooked vegetables.

Tip: Carrots are considered an eye health superfood – but is that true? Are carrots good for your eyesight? Learn more about carrots and eye health.

The Best Way to Cook Vegetables: Steam, Boil, Bake, Fry, Grill, or Microwave?

As a general rule, steaming helps preserve more nutrients in vegetables than boiling as fewer nutrients leach into the water. And since it uses less water, it’s also more environmentally friendly.

If you don’t have a steamer already, this may be a good time to invest in one. It may even encourage you to cook more vegetables.

Frying may actually be better for some vegetables than it may seem. A study from the University of Granada found that frying vegetables in olive oil increased polyphenol levels.

A type of antioxidant, polyphenols may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, a major cause of vision loss, as well as that of diabetes and cancer. By contrast, boiling vegetables allows nutrients to leak into the water, decreasing their nutrient content.

broccoli in a stainless steel pot with glass lid on the stove boiling

With that in mind, frying vegetables using sunflower oil or coconut oil at higher temperatures will add more saturated fat to your diet and possibly have other adverse health effects.

What about grilling vegetables? Grilling vegetables is better than frying them as it could increase their vitamin E and vitamin K content according to a Korean study.

However, you have to be careful to avoid charring them. Charring creates polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that can cause cancer. It also creates advanced glycemic end products that lead to oxidative damage and inflammation in the body.

Last but not least, microwaving can also be a healthy way to cook vegetables without losing nutrients. Steaming vegs in the microwave quickly with only a little water can preserve more nutrients than other cooking methods.

The non-ionized waves that microwaves send at the food make the food molecules heat quickly. That makes microwaves a healthy way to prepare vegetables. Bear in mind that using a glass dish, sticking to a short cooking time, and using just a little water are all important.

Good to know: Cooking vegetables slowly in water causes leaching, a process during which vitamins and nutrients leak out into the water. In this way, vitamin C, B vitamins, and antioxidants like carotenoids and polyphenols can be easily lost.

So, What Vegetables Should You Cook?

The best food for vision includes plenty of vegetables. Some vegetables you want to eat raw, others you want to cook.

We’ve put together a table that you can use as a reference when cooking healthy meals for your eyes. This list includes food to help dry eyes like carrots, spinach, and broccoli.


How to eat



Boil for 10 minutes or steam until tender.

Cooking carrots boosts beta-carotene. Your body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which is essential for eyesight.

Bell peppers (red, orange, or yellow)


Eat bell peppers raw to enjoy their high vitamin C content which cooking diminishes.


Boil, steam, fry, or bake until tender

Cooking makes mushrooms digestible.


Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Cooking tomatoes increases their lycopene (antioxidant levels). Lycopene destroys free radicals that can damage eye cells and can protect you from heart disease and cancer. On the flip side, cooking tomatoes decreases their vitamin C content.



Eat and unpeeled to get more fiber and vitamins. Cooking cucumbers decreases their vitamin content.

Sweet potatoes

Boil in a pot with a lid for 20 minutes. Leave the skin on.

Boiling rather than baking or frying sweet potatoes helps retain more of their beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A which is essential for vision.


Steam or microwave whole potatoes with the skin on.

Avoid frying potatoes as this reduces their nutrient content and loads them with unhealthy calories from oil. Leave the skin on to preserve fiber, iron, zinc, potassium, and magnesium as well as  carotenoids and polyphenols (antioxidants).


Raw or baked, sauteed, or microwaved.

Cooking onions can make them easier to include in your diet while also avoiding bad breath. You can enjoy them raw but baking, sauteing, or microwaving onions boosts their polyphenol content.


Eat raw after crushing or chopping to activate allicin.

Most of garlic’s health benefits come from the phytonutrient allicin. Cooking diminished allicin’s benefits. When cooking garlic, crush it beforehand and let it stand for 10 minutes, which helps preserve more allicin.


Boil, bake, sauté, stir-fry, or carefully grill with the skin on to avoid charring.

Eggplant skin contains anthocyanins, antioxidants that could have multiple benefits for your eyes including improving adaptation to the dark and treating conditions like myopia and glaucoma.


Steam or boil quickly and then dip in cold water.

These cooking methods help reduce the oxalic acid in spinach (which reduces iron and nutrient absorption) while preserving folate and other nutrients.




Steam gently.

Gently steaming broccoli helps preserve more nutrients than other cooking methods. It may also reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.


Steam gently or microwave.

Avoid boiling cauliflower as it significantly decreases proteins, mineral, and phytochemicals.


Dunk into a pot of boiling water until it turns bright green.

Cooking asparagus doubles the level of phenolic acid and increases antioxidant content.


Steam. You can steam peas in a bowl in the microwave with only a little water. Helps reduce nutrient leaching.

Green beans

Steam. Steaming green beans takes a little longer than boiling but it preserves more nutrients. 

Keeping Your Eyes Healthy

Eating vegetables the right way can contribute to your eye health. Another way to boost your eye health is to take a natural eye health supplement.

SightC is a natural superfood blend that brings together antioxidants, vitamins, and other nutrients that support the functioning of your eyes and tear glands. Taken regularly, it may help soothe symptoms of dry eye syndrome.

mother with glasses smiling in the kitchen as she prepares food with her small daughter

It’s easy to take, gluten-free, and diabetes friendly, making it a great choice for any type of diet. It can complement dry eye foods as part of a healthy diet.

Learn more about the SightC Natural Dry Eye Supplement.

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