Eat Your Carrots and Your Spinach

Sure, our moms told us to eat our carrots so we’d have healthy eyes, but as adults we don’t always think about how good nutrition impacts our vision. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), studies show a strong correlation between good nutrition and the prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or cataracts, the two leading causes of vision loss and blindness. About 43 million Americans suffer from these eye diseases. Eating foods rich in antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, essential fatty acids, vitamins C and E and the mineral zinc can help you protect your eyes and ward off eye problems. Yes, carrots do provide the beta-carotene that helps us see at night, but dark, leafy greens overtake carrots as healthy eye foods because they are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. The AOA recommends the following foods for eye health:

  • Lutein and zeaxanthin: Colorful fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale, corn, green beans, peas, oranges and tangerines
  • Essential fatty acids: Fatty fish like tuna, salmon, or herring, whole grain foods, chicken and eggs
  • Vitamin C: Fruits and vegetables, including oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, papaya, green peppers and tomatoes
  • Vitamin E: Vegetable oils, such as safflower or corn oil, almonds, pecans, sweet potatoes, and sunflower seeds
  • Zinc: Extra-lean red meat, poultry, liver, shellfish, milk, baked beans, and whole grains

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Kerry Solomon, MD

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