Some of the Best (and Worst) Foods for Eye Health
It’s no secret that certain foods aren’t great for your overall health. Too much of these foods, and not enough healthier foods, can cause inflammation, high cholesterol, large changes in blood sugar levels, and even elevated blood pressure. While some of these foods affect your whole-body health, there are certain foods that can impact your eye health for better or worse.
High-Fructose Corn Syrup
One study suggests that too much of this ultra-sweet sugar alternative can lead to increased risk of cardiovascular disease from increased triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood, which can lead to high blood pressure. This can cause damage to the delicate blood vessels in the retina and can ultimately contribute to eye disease.
While carbs can be necessary for energy, eating too many carbohydrate-rich foods like breads, pastas, and starches can prevent your body from absorbing the important vitamins and minerals it needs from the other foods you eat. When they don’t receive proper levels of vital nutrients, your eyes can’t perform at their best.
On the topic of carbohydrates, a diet that’s high in processed sugar can have negative effects on eye health. One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that eating too much processed sugar can contribute to macular degeneration – the leading cause of vision loss among Americans.
Berries & Currants
You’ve probably seen the word “antioxidant” printed on labels at the supermarket, and with good reason. As their name suggests, these powerful compounds (most of which come from fresh fruits and vegetables) can prevent or prohibit the oxidation of other molecules (called “free radicals”) in your body. These antioxidants are vital to maintaining good health because they absorb those free radicals before they have the chance to cause or worsen illness and chronic disease.
A diet high in fresh blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, and black currants can supercharge your body’s levels of free radical-fighting antioxidants. Anthocyanins, an antioxidant found in bilberries and black currants, can even stimulate cellular repair in your eye tissues.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Another potent antioxidant, lutein, is found in green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, and even some lettuces. Lutein has properties that stimulate overall eye health and assist in clear vision. While many leafy greens are unpleasant when consumed raw, it’s important not to overcook leafy greens before eating them. This can dilute the overall positive effects of lutein. So, enjoy these nutrient-dense foods as close to fresh as possible.
A common misconception is that all fats are created equal. Especially in the case of foods like wild-caught salmon, trout, herring, and mackerel, some fats are much better than others. These wild fish contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids – a naturally-occurring fat recommended by the American Heart Association that is also great for promoting healthy vision.
Of course, any drastic changes to your diet or caloric intake should be discussed with your doctor. Regular visits to your optometrist can also help you to stay ahead of potential risk factors for eye disease and vision loss. Call us today to schedule your premium eye exam with one of our independent Doctors of Optometry.
Naples Optical Center (Downtown Naples) – 239.263.6677
Naples Optical Too (Near the Vineyards) – 239.353.8794