You probably already know that keeping your heart healthy depends in part on what you eat. Fortunately, the same diet that helps your heart is good for your eyes.
Eating a diet low in fat and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can pay benefits not only to your heart but to your eyes. The connection isn't surprising: your eyes rely on tiny arteries for oxygen and nutrients, just as the heart relies on much larger arteries. Keeping those arteries healthy will help your eyes.
Some foods stand out as particularly helpful for eye health. Here are five things you should make sure are part of your diet for healthy vision.
Leafy green vegetables. Kale and spinach are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients found in the healthy eye that may lower your risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Other vegetables with significant amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin include romaine lettuce, collards, turnip greens, broccoli and peas. And while not leafy and green, eggs are also a good source of these nutrients.
Citrus fruits. Oranges, tangerines, grapefruit and lemons are high in vitamin C, an antioxidant critical to eye health. Research shows that your eyes need relatively high levels of vitamin C to function properly, and antioxidants can prevent or at least delay cataracts and AMD. Lots of other foods offer vitamin C, including peaches, red peppers, tomatoes and strawberries.
Beans. All kinds of beans (legumes), including black-eyed peas, kidney beans and lima beans, contain zinc, an essential trace mineral that is found in high concentration in the eyes. Zinc may help protect your eyes from the damaging effects of light. Did you know that peanuts are a legume too? Other foods high in zinc include oysters, lean red meat, poultry and fortified cereals.
Cold-water fish. Research shows that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acid from cold-water fish may help reduce the risk of developing eye disease later in life. These fish include salmon, tuna, sardines and halibut.
Orange-colored vegetables and fruits. Carrots are high in beta-carotene, a nutrient that helps with night vision, as are other orange-colored fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, apricots and cantaloupe. Making them a part of a colorful diet can help you keep your eyes healthy.