Eating a well-balanced diet is of course vital to your overall health and well-being. For seniors, adopting healthy nutrition habits can help you feel better, have more energy, and reduce your risk for chronic conditions and diseases. There’s also another benefit to eating well- protecting your vision.
Some of the most common vision problems facing older adults are macular degeneration and cataracts. Studies have shown a link between certain nutrients that when consumed in specific amounts, can help reduce the risk of developing some of these eye issues.
Eye Health and Nutrition
Maintaining healthy eyes is so important to stay as independent and as safe as possible as you age. It’s expected that the rate of blindness and low vision will double to affect more than six million Americans by the year 2030 due to chronic diseases like diabetes and the growing aging population.
However, making lifestyle changes sooner rather than later can help reduce your risk not only for chronic health conditions, but also to protect your eyes. The foods you choose to eat, along with the proper dietary supplements when necessary, can positively affect your eye health.
Best Foods and Vitamins for Eye Health
When it comes to eye health, the best option is to get the proper vitamins and nutrients you need from food. Many of these foods are readily available at your local grocery store; it’s all about making the best choices.
Some of the best foods and vitamins for healthy eyes include:
Dark, leafy green vegetables. Two antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, may reduce the risk of some chronic eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration. They can also protect eyes against damage from sunlight, air pollution and cigarette smoke. These antioxidants are found in leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale, as well as foods like broccoli, eggs and bright-colored fruits like grapes or kiwi.
Dark berries. Berries like black currants, blueberries and the lesser-known bilberries contain high amounts of a flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has extensive benefits to eye health. It provides effective protection from contracting macular degeneration and cataracts.
Carrots and pumpkin. One of the best know vitamins for eye health is vitamin A, and deep orange or yellow veggies and fruit rich in beta carotene, which converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A helps the retina, cornea and eye tissues function properly. Other food choices rich in vitamin A include sweet potatoes, eggs, milk, and squash.
Citrus fruits and peppers. Vitamin C is also essential for maintaining healthy eyes, as it’s also an antioxidant that can slow the progression of macular degeneration and lower your risk of developing cataracts. Add oranges, grapefruit, red and green peppers, papaya, broccoli and brussel sprouts to your diet.
Seeds and nuts. To keep healthy eye tissue strong, vitamin C needs to work with vitamin E. It can be difficult to get enough vitamin E from foods alone, but adding a handful of sunflower seeds or almonds to a salad can give you the boost you need. You can also get vitamin E from sources like wheat germ oil, vegetable oil and peanut butter.
Fatty fish. Omega-3 fatty acids not only keep your heart and brain healthy, but they can also help protect your eyes by helping cells work together and reducing inflammation. Salmon, herring and sardines are the top choices, but you can also get ample amounts of omega-3s from tuna, halibut, anchovies, mackerel, trout and even some green vegetables.
Poultry, oysters and eggs. Zinc helps keep the retina of your eye in good condition by bringing vitamin A from the liver to produce melanin, which is a protective pigment in the eyes. Oysters, crab legs, poultry, eggs are great sources of zinc, along with options like baked beans and whole grains.
Of course, along with proper nutrition, make sure you’re getting an eye exam every year. At your annual appointment, you can discuss what foods or supplements would be best suited to your personal eye health needs.
For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.