The story about carrots being good for your eyes is well-known. It's also true. Carrots and other orange foods like certain squashes or sweet potatoes contain a nutrient known as beta carotene, which protects the cornea of your eye from the onset of cataracts.
When it comes to eyes, there are more foods to consider than carrots. You can eat your carrots (or pumpkins or sweet potatoes) in good conscience, but if you are looking out for your eyes, you might enjoy adding more of the following to your diet.
Deep greens, like spinach (or kale, if you prefer) are full of antioxidants, which are good for more than your eyes. Not only do antioxidants contain some important vitamins and minerals, but they may play a role in managing or even preventing such disorders as cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Focusing back on the eyes, spinach can also go a long way toward staving off macular degeneration, which affects the retina as we age.
Spinach also has the power to protect your eyes from damaging outside influences, including pollution, cigarette smoke, and sunlight. Thanks to the lutein and zeaxanthin contained in spinach, 10 ounces of cooked spinach a week can help your eyes better absorb damaging light and improve night vision.
Don't feel like eating so many greens? Pink and red grapefruit are full of beta carotene and vitamin C. The latter is one of the better known and one of the more powerful antioxidants. It's well-known for its immunity-bolstering properties, but it can also strengthen your eyes against cataracts and macular degeneration. Just like spinach and kale, grapefruit also contains lutein, zeaxanthin, and other nutrients your eyes will thank you for, especially as you advance in years.
This entry, like the ones before, could easily cover more than one food. The eye-enhancing goodness found in salmon can also be found in other fish, including herring and sardines. In the case of these aforementioned seafood, the goodness is called omega-3. Omega-3 fats are among the best of the “good” fats, due to the way they protect tiny blood vessels from damage — and our eyes are simply full of those tiny blood vessels.
More than just brain food, salmon helps to fight eye inflammation and promotes the healthy function of cells. It can help prevent dry eye and lowers the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Those Thanksgiving leftovers may turn out to be an early holiday gift for your eyes. Not only is it great on sandwiches (and a great lean substitute for beef), it is full of nutrients that are great for vision. Vitamin B helps ward off dry eye and helps promote the prevention of cataracts. Calcium and zinc bolster the eye muscles, keeping them strong. And of course, turkey is a protein, which helps keep your eyes strong and your vision sharp.
The red color in tomatoes comes from the carotenoid known as lycopene. And as you might have guessed, lycopene can do some spectacular things for your eyes. Just like beta carotene, lycopene can help protect your eyes from light damage to the inner parts of your eyes, helping you absorb some of the harmful blue light. There's also vitamin E for protection of your retina, vitamin C for reducing the risk of cataracts and macular regeneration, and even beta carotene for night vision and improved sight.
If you're not a fan of raw tomatoes, tomato soup or even ketchup can give you the tomatoes you need to give your eyes the care they deserve.
Naturally, there are many more foods than five that are eye healthy, but these five are a good start. Not only will they help keep your eyes in top shape, they'll go a long way toward keeping the rest of you healthy, as well.
Shariq Toor is Content Strategist and Outreach Expert working with the laser eye surgeons at Eyecare 20/20 in New Jersey. He loves discovering the latest trends in Technology, Social Media, and Health. In his off time, he practices landscape photography and keep up with his favorite sports. Follow him on Twitter: @Shariqtoor