Having a balanced diet is the best way to #loveyoureyes, but some foods are particularly helpful for maintaining healthy eyes. This week is National Vegetarian Week, so what better time to talk about the best foods for healthy eyes because many of them are veggies! For example, green vegetables like kale and spinach are packed full of goodness that can help you maintain happy and healthy eyes.
Foods for Healthy Eyes
Almonds are filled with vitamin E, which slows macular degeneration, research shows. Just one handful of almonds provides about half of your daily dose of E.
Nuts, eggs, beans and other nonmeat protein provide essential vitamins and minerals that help promote clear eyes and good vision without increasing your carb count as much as meat.
Dark green leafy vegetables contain plant pigments lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin absorb excess light in plants to reduce sunlight damage. We have lutein and zeaxanthin in our eyes too. Absorbed from your blood into the macula, it’s unclear what these pigments do.
However, a study in 2015 found that these pigments can help fight AMD. The study reported a significant improvement in contrast sensitivity and an improvement in best-corrected vision. Furthermore, they found a significant correlation between visual function and macular pigment content, suggesting that the increase in the macular pigments can improve your visual function.
Other Health Benefits
As well as containing lutein and zeaxanthin for healthy eyes, green veg offers other great health benefits. Greens are practically carb-free and full of fibre, which makes them good for people who have to watch their blood glucose, like diabetics.
They’re also rich in vitamin K, which regulates blood clotting, protects your bones and regulates your inflammation. Vitamin A, the other main vitamin in green veg, helps your immune system and promotes healthy skin.
Mythbusting: The Truth About Carrots
Carrots are good for healthy eyes, right? We’ve all heard that. But are they really?
Well… sort of. Carrots contain Vitamin A. Vitamin A is an essential part of the rhodopsin molecule, which is activated when light shines on the retina. It sends a signal to the brain when light hits the retina, which results in vision. Beta carotene, the form of vitamin A found in plants, plays a role in preventing macular degeneration, the leading cause of age-related blindness.
A Vitamin A deficiency can lead to a thickening of the cornea and eventually even to blindness. Keratomalacia, a condition that comes from severe deficiency of vitamin A, is a condition that’s bilateral, meaning it usually affects both eyes.
However, carrots contain no more Vitamin A than most other vegetables, so why do carrots hold the claim to vision health almost exclusively?
The myth about carrots being good for night vision was made popular during World War II. RAF fighter ace John “Cat’s Eyes” Cunningham, who scored 19 kills during night raids, had his excellent night vision attributed to carrots.
This helped promote Home Front efforts, encouraging people to grow more home veggies, while deceiving the Axis forces at the same time. Because in reality, Cunningham’s squadron was amongst the first to receive airborne interception radar, which was very handy for tracking down enemy planes at night.
So there you go! Carrots are good for you, but don’t eat them exclusively if you want healthy eyes!
Looking to bust more eye myths? Check this out!
How to Get More Veg in Your Diet
There are plenty of interesting ways to get more veg into your diet without just plonking it on your plate.
Frozen green veg is great! It makes your veggies easier to store while keeping in all the goodness. Adding some frozen kale or spinach to your smoothie is a great way to get an extra boost of lutein and vitamin A into your diet.
Sandwiches or wraps
Adding some spinach to a sandwich is a simple way to compliment any sandwich filling. If you want to go more daring and less carb-tastic, you can even use leafy greens in place of bread to create a tasty veggie wrap.
Add your favourite leafy green vegetables to omelettes or scrambled egg as part of a healthy breakfast. It will add extra texture to your dish without compromising on flavour!
Carrot sticks and other stick-like veg make great options for those of a grazing nature. Vegetable crisps are another tasty and colourful way to get more veg effortlessly. A handful of dried fruit are another sweet treat that means you don’t have to dip into the chocolate supply!
Add veg and variety to meal times by swapping your meat for a veg alternative. Choose portobello mushrooms over burgers, or make a veggie kebab rather than a traditional meat one on the BBQ.
Why not try swapping out meat for veg for your dinner tonight in support of your eye health and National Vegetarian Week. If you’re looking for more information and advice about how to improve your eye health, get in touch with one of our experts today.