A Feast for the Eyes: Summer Foods with Vision Benefits
Is there any better time to get creative with your meals and snacks than summer? With the growing season underway, home gardens, grocery stores and farmers markets are a rainbow of vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables. These seasonal foods can make an eye-catching meal — and provide essential vitamins and nutrients that can play a significant role in improving your eye health.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), approximately 80 million people in the United States have glaucoma — a group of progressive eye diseases that's the second-leading cause of blindness worldwide. Eating the right foods and other healthy habits can help lower your risk for glaucoma and other eye-related diseases.
Here are some delicious summer foods that can easily be incorporated into any meal for better eye health:
· Carrots – While no amount of carrots will give you perfect vision, they do contain important nutrients and vitamins that can help keep your eyes healthy. Carrots are a powerful source of lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin help protect against age-related vision problems, such as macular degeneration and cataracts. They also contain vitamin A and beta-carotene, another antioxidant that helps maintain healthy eye cells.
- Leafy greens – Find more lutein and zeaxanthin in dark leafy green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, collard greens and Swiss chard. These foods are rich in vitamin A, which helps you see the full spectrum of light, according to the AAO. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to dry eyes and even night blindness — it’s believed to be the leading cause of preventable blindness in children worldwide.
- Berries – Delightful, whether plucked right off a backyard bush or purchased from a roadside stand, berries owe their powerful eye-protective properties to the anthocyanins they contain. Anthocyanins are antioxidants that help protect important structures inside your eye, such as the cornea, lens and retina. If you spend your summers in the sun, a diet full of anthocyanins can help protect your retina against damage from UV light exposure. Look for anthocyanins in other purple, blue and dark red fruits, like red or purple grapes, blackberries, pomegranates, blueberries and cranberries.
- Broccoli – Ranking among one of the most popular vegetables sold in the U.S., broccoli is full of essential nutrients to help keep you and your family healthy. Broccoli is low in calories and rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals — including those that benefit your eye health, such as lutein, vitamin A and vitamin C. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), vitamin C can help lower the risk of developing cataracts. Additionally, combined with other essential nutrients, it can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and vision loss.
Eating these fruits and vegetables — plus eye-healthy proteins such as nuts and fish — as part of a balanced diet can help you maintain good eye health throughout the summer. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet or exercise routine.
The Healthy Vision Association (HVA) is dedicated to helping its members see well and be healthy by providing access to products, services and information that promote vision and overall health. To discover more vision tips, visit healthyvisionassociation.com.