Your eyes are just like the rest of your body: they need good nutrition to thrive. Eating a balanced diet (along with reducing sun exposure) alone is good for your eyes, but below are some of the absolute best foods for eye health!
Leafy Green Vegetables
Dark, leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, collard greens, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, contain lots of vitamin C, vitamin E and carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin.
Lutein and zeaxanthin (which are also in romaine, sweet corn and broccoli) are naturally found in your eyes’ lenses and retinas, and they protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays and other harmful light.
Lutein and zeaxanthin concentrate on the eye’s macula, a yellow spot in the center of the retina. The macula controls your central vision, which we need to see things clearly, read and drive.
Studies have suggested having high levels of both lutein and zeaxanthin in eye tissue is linked to better vision.
Fatty Fish, Nuts and Seeds
The anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy properties of omega-3s are well known, but did you know they can have benefits for your eyes, too?
A diet low in omega-3 fatty acids is a risk factor for dry eyes, a common concern where the tears can’t adequately lubricate the eyes.
Support healthy eyes by eating fatty fish like salmon, herring, tuna, trout, sardines, walnuts, and flax and chia seeds. Taking a high-quality fish oil supplement can also act as a daily source of omega-3s.
Sunflower Seeds and Nuts
Vitamin E contains eight antioxidants known as tocopherols, which help protect fatty acids that make up cell membranes in the body—including those in the retina of the eye.
Sunflower seeds and nuts like peanuts (including peanut butter), almonds and hazelnuts are good sources of vitamin E and good for antioxidant protection of the eyes.
Summer and Winter Squash
Both types of squash contain nutrients that protect against vision loss and other eye concerns.
Summer squash is rich in lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc and vitamin C, all good for healthy eyesight. Winter squash contains the same along with vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids.
Whole Eggs (Whites and Yolks)
Egg yolks are also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin (it’s what gives them their yellow color!) as well as zinc, which is present in the whole egg and helps your body use the lutein and zeaxanthin.
Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin and Carrots
These orange-tinted veggies are rich in the carotenoid beta-carotene. Your body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which is necessary for your retina to notice light and turn it into electrical signals.
Red Peppers, Strawberries and Oranges
The vitamin C in these fruits make them some of the best foods for eye health. Vitamin C has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that support healthy eyes as they age.
The RDA for vitamin C is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men. Just ½ cup of raw red pepper has 95 mg, making it a great source. Strawberries and oranges or orange juice are close seconds. Just make sure you eat them raw, as cooking destroys heat-sensitive vitamin C.
Meats, Beans and Legumes
Meats like beef, oysters, turkey, pork, crabs and dark chicken are good sources of zinc, which supports the use of lutein and zeaxanthin for good eye health. Zinc also helps move vitamin A to your retina for production of melanin, a protective pigment.
For vegetarians or vegans, beans, legumes, cashews, almonds, yogurt and cheese are also sources of zinc.