Fruits that are good for your eyes may help you avoid those embarrassing moments when you didn’t see the date coming and forgot the anniversary of your spouse, kids or parents. There is a particular type of fruit that is extremely rich in antioxidants, vitamins, fiber and mineral compounds that protect, repair and maintain eye health.
Fruits You Didn’t Know Were Good for Your Eyes
With all the weight loss programs, supplements, and trendy diets out there, the good ol’ fruits of the earth have to fight to keep up. There’s a lot to be said for the benefits of whole foods. Add these superfruits to your diet to help keep your eye health—and waistline—in check.
Combating heart disease, lowering the risk of stroke, and reducing cholesterol levels aren’t the usual things that come to mind when you think of apples. Still, these are all benefits of this eye-healthy fruit. The magic ingredients? Antioxidants and pectin, which help to reduce inflammation and LDL cholesterol levels. Matthew Alpert, O.D., a VSP network eye doctor at Alpert Vision Care in Woodland Hills, CA explains, “Many people don’t know that cholesterol can build up in the blood vessels of your retina and pose a risk of damage to the eye. Your VSP eye doctor can spot high cholesterol just by examining your eyes.”
This fruit boasts serious diabetes-fighting properties. One study of overweight adults showed that those who consumed grapefruit had lower insulin levels after 12 weeks. Dr. Alpert explains, “Diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, can take a toll on your eyes and lead to conditions like diabetic retinopathy. This condition causes the eye’s blood vessels to leak and damage the retina, often causing vision loss.”
These blue beauties are a great way to complement your weight loss routine (only 88 calories per cup!) and purge your body of toxins that can damage your eyes and other organs. Anthocyanins, which give blueberries their bold color, act as anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants that protect your cardiovascular system. “Keeping your heart healthy helps keep your whole body—including your eyes—healthy,” comments Dr. Alpert.
Who knew this unassuming fruit was so jam-packed with health benefits? The polyphenols in grapes—particularly the red variety—help prevent type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. By extension, this means grapes guard against glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. Add that eye-health perk to grapes’ cancer-fighting resveratrol compounds, and you’ve got every reason to pick up a cluster on your next grocery run.
fruits and vegetables for healthy eyes
What to eat to help eyesight
A healthy diet plays an important part in supporting eye health and since 80% of vision problems worldwide are avoidable or even curable, this is a good place to start when it comes to looking after the eyes. With their array of nutrients, fruits and vegetables are particularly good foods for the eyes so let’s see what some of the best options are.
Which fruit and veggies are good for eyes?
To keep your eyes in good condition, and to support other areas of your health such as immune function and skin, it is important to ensure your diet includes the recommended 5-10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Some fruit and vegetables that are particularly good for eye health include:
- Red pepper
- Sweet potatoes
As well as learning about how all these tasty foods can help your eyes, this blog will give details of a few easy recipes that include them.
This tasty dark purple berry is extremely high in vitamin C – four times higher than oranges, in fact! There are several ways vitamin C can benefit the eyes; for example, it:
- Protects cells
- Supports blood vessels
- Is needed to make collagen, a structural protein
- Helps to prevent dry eyes
- Helps to reduce the risk of developing Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
In addition, blackcurrants contain anthocyanosises which are powerful antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. They are also useful in strengthening blood vessels and improving blood flow.
Lutein is an antioxidant known as a carotenoid. It is present in kiwifruit and gives the fruit it’s bright green colour.
Research shows that intake of these antioxidants could decrease the risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration.1
Lutein also protects the eyes against oxidative damage caused by light, and has been compared to internal sunglasses – sunglasses that you can create yourself just by eating naturally colourful food!
3. Red pepper
Zeaxanthin is another antioxidant known as a carotenoid. Like lutein, it has been shown to support eye health and reduce the risk of AMD.
Zeaxanthin is present in green, orange, yellow and red fruit and vegetables, so red peppers are just one example of where you may find it. Red peppers have the added benefit, however, of being rich in vitamin C.
Flavonoids stabilise blood vessels that supply nutrients to the eye, plus they feed tissue that supports the eye.
Flavonoids are found in a variety of fruits, but particularly dark fruit and vegetables like blueberries, blackcurrants and blackberries.
There are high concentrations of zinc around the retina, so it is thought to be important for eye health and function.
The retina is the innermost layer of the eye, and contains light-sensitive nerves. These nerve cells help to convert energy from light rays into nerve impulses so that we are able to see in colour.
Zinc isn’t highly available in many foods, though chickpeas are one reasonable source.
One way to tell you are low in zinc is if white specks develop on the nails. In this case, you could consider taking a zinc supplement (15mg daily with food) until they disappear.
A 2018 study found that vegetable nitrates, which are largely found in beetroot and green leafy vegetables, could reduce the risk of developing early stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD).2
In the study of more than 2000 people, conducted over a 15-year period, people who ate between 100-142 mgs of vegetable nitrates each day had a 35% lower risk of developing early AMD than people who ate less than 69mgs of vegetable nitrates each day.
Beetroot has nearly 15mg of nitrate per 100g.
Spinach has approximately 20mg of nitrates per 100g, making it another vegetable that could help lower the chance of developing AMD.
As well as this, spinach is a good source of vitamins C, E and A. Vitamins A and E are important in protecting against AMD. Vitamin E also supports good quality vision more generally, whilst vitamin A helps us to see well at night and supports the health of the corneas.
To read more about how nutrients and eye health, take a look at my blog ‘Could nutrient deficiencies affect your eyes?’.
Carrots are a good source of carotenoids which are thought to protect the macula of the eye. The macula is positioned at the back of the eye near the retina and is slightly yellow in colour due to dietary carotenoids.
If the macula deteriorates, it reduces the ability to read, drive and even recognise faces as central vision becomes poor. Therefore, it is important to eat plenty of brightly-coloured fruit and vegetables, including carrots, in order to support eye health.
Nutrients derived from plants are easily recognised and absorbed by the body.
Tomatoes are another fresh ingredient containing flavonoids. As mentioned, these support structural fibres in the eye called collagen which, overall, has a stabilising effect.
Flavonoids are found in a wide array of plant-based foods, but particularly brightly coloured fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes.
10. Sweet potatoes
This small, bright vegetable is abundant in nutrients. It contains beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A), for example, which is known to promote good eye by offering protection to the retina and cornea.
Sweet potatoes are also abundant in vitamin C which, as previously explained, is particularly good for eye health.
Best Foods for Eye Health
It is common for vision to change as you age, but there are still proactive measures you can take to promote eye health. For starters, a few simple dietary modifications and additions to your daily meals can go a long way toward protecting your eyes.
To help promote healthy vision, we are exploring how certain vitamins and minerals can help with eye health.
Vitamins and Minerals for Eye Health
Vitamins and minerals are the building blocks for strong overall health, including your eye health and vision. Why? Your eyes depend on arteries for oxygen and nutrients, and eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains help keep these arteries healthy.
In general, there are six main nutrients found in either plants or animals that are linked to lowering your risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, and dry eye, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). The following nutrients are linked to promoting eye health:
Vitamin A: This vitamin is essential for the health of the cornea (the clear, dome-shaped window at the front of the eye). Vitamin A helps in the production of important pigments including the protein rhodopsin, which is found in the retina. People with vitamin A deficiencies can have issues seeing at night. Vitamin A also has a very important role in preventing dry eye. In addition to eating foods high in vitamin A, you can also eat foods with beta-carotene. Once digested, the small intestine converts beta-carotene to retinol, a form of vitamin A.
Vitamin C: This vitamin assists with repairing and growing new tissue cells. Vitamin C can help prevent cataracts and AMD as you age. It is found in many fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin E: Like vitamin C, vitamin E can help prevent cataracts and AMD as you age. Vitamin E helps protect your eyes from harmful free radicals — molecules that damage cells — that can break down eye tissue over time.
Zinc: Minerals such as zinc are vital to your overall health. Zinc helps transport vitamin A from the liver to the retina, a layer of nerve cells lining the back wall inside the eye.
Lutein and zeaxanthin: These nutrients are types of carotenoids, which are pigments found in colorful fruits and vegetables. The retina already contains lutein and zeaxanthin, so eating more of these nutrients helps replenish them as you age. Lutein and zeaxanthin are important because they help improve pigment density in the macula to protect the eye from oxidative damage, such as from ultraviolet light and other free radicals.
Omega fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), play a key role in how your vision develops and your retina functions. This “good” type of fat helps absorb vitamins A and E. The eyes also need omega-3 fatty acids to support the oily outer tear layer for moisture control.
While these nutrients can help lower your risk of certain eye-related diseases, it is important to remember they will not cure eye diseases nor correct pre-existing vision problems.
Foods That Help Your Vision
In general, eating a diet rich in green, leafy vegetables, antioxidant-packed fruits, and cold-water fish (salmon, trout, and tuna) can help your vision in the long run.
Fruits That Are Good for Your Eyes
Citrus fruits commonly are the first fruits that come to mind when thinking of vitamins. Oranges, grapefruits, and lemons are all high in vitamin C, but you can also find this important eye nutrient in peaches, tomatoes, and strawberries.
As a good rule of thumb when shopping, dark orange or yellow fruits are loaded with beta-carotene that converts to vitamin A. This includes peaches, apricots, cantaloupes, melons, and mangoes.
Best Foods to Keep Your Eyes Healthy
We are not aware, but good vision is an essential aspect of our lives. Out of the special senses, the eye is the most valuable organ as it is used to perceive almost 80% of impressions. So, don’t take your eyes for granted! Taking care of them is necessary. If you neglect your eye health, then it will severely affect your quality of life too!
A good vision can help to perform any task, like reading, walking, working, etc. That’s why regular eye check-up and consuming healthy food is the key-factor for eye health.
Your eyes need various types of micronutrients daily, such as vitamins, antioxidants, minerals. These include –
- Vitamin A, B, C, and E
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Why is Nutrition Important for Good Eye Health?
According to some experts and ophthalmologists, there are certain food items that improve overall eye health while some foods help in reducing the risk some certain eye-related diseases. Consuming a daily diet of low fat and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains not only helps promote good eye health but also aids in keeping your heart healthy.
This is not highly surprising, as eyes rely on tiny arteries for nutrition, so does the heart which relies on larger arteries. Thus, keeping these arteries healthy, feeding them with nutrients from rich, fibrous foods promote good eye health.
A balanced diet includes a variety of proteins, dairy food, fruit, juices, vegetables, seafood, and poultry food. Ideally, you should eat rainbow food, incorporating various types of food with different colours like a rainbow.
Here, we have given some food options to maintain your eyes health –
Particularly Salmon and Tuna are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids that are great for eye health. Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats that contribute to visual development and retinal health. A relevant study concluded that people who have enough fish in their diet had the lowest risk of age-related macular degeneration. The fish oil present in fish helps to prevent dry eyes. Experts recommend two-three servings per week can provide you with better results.
Oysters are the best source of natural minerals, especially zinc. Zinc is an essential element that helps in the production of melanin, a pigment required for eye protection. Zinc deficiency can cause night blindness and cataract. High doses of zinc can slow down the progression of the early stage of macular degeneration of the eye.
2: Poultry food and meat
Eggs are great food with numerous health benefits. They are an excellent source of lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin E. Vitamin A is a safeguard of the cornea. Two antioxidants present in egg yolk – lutein and zeaxanthin lower the chance of getting eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration.
Lean beef is rich in zinc which helps the body to absorb vitamin A easily. It is beneficial for eye health and also plays an essential role in minimizing the risk of advanced macular degeneration (an eye disease).
Turkey is known as an “all-purpose protein” that can benefit your body in various ways. It is the best food to prevent cataracts due to the presence of zinc and vitamin B niacin.
- Green leafy vegetables
Leafy vegetables are known to be beneficial in every aspect. They are abundant in vitamins, minerals, iron, and antioxidants. Dark green vegetables like spinach, kale are rich in antioxidants such as zeaxanthin and lutein. Lutein helps to protect the eyes by filtration of blue light (lights from mobile or computers). These antioxidants also play a role in maintaining a healthy blood flow to the eyes. You can toss these vegetables in oil or make a tasty soup to enjoy an evening.
Legume like kidney beans and peas offers ample amount of bioflavonoids and zinc, helps to protect the retina, and prevent cataract and macular degeneration.
- Bell peppers
Bright bell peppers are rich in vitamin A, and vitamin C is known to minimize the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Daily a cup of freshly diced bell peppers can provide you with abundant vitamins and minerals.
Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A and beta-carotene that are excellent for eye health. Vitamin A plays a vital role in the production of rod and cone cells, essential for low light vision and colour vision. Beta-carotene protects the eye surface and helps to prevent eye infections and eye diseases. Disease-causing free radicles are also minimized by beta-carotene and help to prevent cataracts and glaucoma.
Oranges are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants that help counter the risk of age-related eye problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Oranges help to provide structure for the cornea. You can drink a glass of orange juice daily to receive its benefits.
These little magical berries are an excellent source of vitamins and antioxidants that helps to improve vision. Blueberry contains anthocyanins – a potent antioxidant that provides extra protection to your eyes. They also help improve the eyesight of people suffering from normal-tension glaucoma, where the optic nerve is damaged.
5: Nuts and seeds
- AlmondsAlmonds are great for your eye health. Almonds are rich in vitamin E and fatty acids that help to prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. Almonds work as a safeguard for your eye health.
- Chia seedsChia seeds are called ‘super-food’ due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. They are great to maintain healthy eyes.
6: Dairy products
Dairy products such as milk and yogurt are beneficial for eye health as they are rich in vitamin A and zinc. They help to protect the cornea and retina from external infections. Dairy products prevent night blindness and cataracts.