There are foods that contain different nutrients that work together to promote good eye health. Carrots are among the best examples, as they contain high amounts of beta-carotene that converts to vitamin A, which keeps your retina and other parts of your eyes healthy. But there is a lot more to eye health than just consuming carrots.
Vitamin A alone won’t cut it, so It’s important to nourish yourself with a mixture of various antioxidants and beneficial compounds, which you can find in foods such as:
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are rich in carotenoids (a type of antioxidant), specifically lutein and zeaxanthin. These two carotenoids are found in your macula, the part of your retina that helps with detailed central vision.
Lutein is known for aiding in blue light absorption as well, which may help maintain your sleep cycle and pupillary reflex.1
The best choices for dark leafy greens include kale and spinach, as they’re found to have the highest amount of lutein. Other great options are Swiss chard, collard greens, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Orange Bell Peppers
In a study published by the British Journal of Ophthalmology, orange bell peppers were found to have the highest amount of zeaxanthin compared to 32 other fruits and vegetables.2 Combining orange bell peppers with dark leafy greens in a single meal can give you high amounts of both lutein and zeaxanthin with little effort.
Pasture-Raised Organic Egg Yolks
Egg yolks have low amounts of both lutein and zeaxanthin, but they do contain other compounds essential for optimal health, such as healthy fat and protein. Despite being low in lutein and zeaxanthin, the upside is that they’re highly absorbable, so you get more out of them compared to other carotenoid-rich foods.
You can even take advantage of the absorbability by adding eggs to your meals. According to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), adding eggs to a salad can help boost the absorption of carotenoids from the vegetables by as much as nine-fold.3
Before you cook egg yolks, keep in mind that heat damages the lutein and zeaxanthin, lowering the antioxidant quality that your eyes can absorb. To preserve the quality, it’s best to cook the yolks as little as you can, by poaching or soft-boiling the eggs, or just eating them raw.
Wild-Caught Alaskan Salmon
Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is rich in omega-3, a healthy type of fat that brings various health benefits throughout your body. But for your eyes specifically, omega-3 can help lower your risk of macular degeneration by 60 percent.In addition, omega-3 may help prevent inflammation, which is helpful when fighting against pink eye.
According to a study published in Surgical Neurology, participants who regularly took omega-3-rich fish oil reported that their chronic body pain improved dramatically, compared to another group who used NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).4
Astaxanthin is an antioxidant byproduct produced by the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis when its water supply runs out to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation. It has been reported to be more powerful than lutein and zeaxanthin combined. Astaxanthin may help with other eye-related problems aside from pink eye, such as glaucoma, cataracts, cystoid macular edema and retinal arterial occlusion.
A type of berry popular during summertime, black currants contain high levels of anthocyanin (a type of flavonoid), ranging around 190 to 270 milligrams for every 100 grams of berries. It’s also what gives black currants their distinct color. Anthocyanin may help with improved visual acuity, or the ability to see objects in distances.5
Bilberries resemble blueberries, but with a darker shade of blue, signifying their high anthocyanin content. Interestingly, the health benefits of anthocyanin extracted from bilberries are different from black currants. According to Laboratory Investigation, the anthocyanin from bilberries has the ability to fight eye inflammation.6