As long as there have been fussy eaters who would rather skip their veggies and dive straight into sugar-laden desserts, there have been grownups bribing them to eat their carrots if they want good eyesight.
For those who end up wearing glasses, this may feel like a raw deal, but those grownups weren’t exactly lying. Eating carrots won’t guarantee 20/20 vision, but adding them to your diet will help preserve those peepers.
Carrots are a rich source of both vitamin A and beta-carotene, both of which are highly beneficial to the ole eyeballs. In short, they help protect the cornea and also help ward off macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness as we get older.
It’s never too soon to start laying the groundwork for healthy eyes. But if you’re still not sold on those stewed carrots and not even the promise of creamy dip with raw baby carrots gets you to budge, we have rounded up six foods that will help you keep your eyes healthy.
Eggs are a source of antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which help to ward off cataracts and prevent macular degeneration, according to several studies. Vegans need not worry, because both antioxidants can be found in leafy green veggies — such as kale, spinach and collard greens — as well as in broccoli, corn and Brussels sprouts.
Red and green peppers are rich in vitamin C. We typically think of getting our vitamin C from orange or grapefruit juice, particularly when we come down with colds or are desperately trying to avoid coming down with one, but scientists have made links between consumption of vitamin C — in combination with other nutrients — and eye health.
Avocado is a source of vitamin E, which is beneficial to your body, most notably your immune system. It also helps keep cell membranes healthy, so it’s not surprising that scientists have found that it helps to ward off cataracts.
So no carrots for you, eh? Lucky for you, there are other orange veggies that are rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, and sweet potatoes are one of them. You can also try some squash. If orange is simply not your color, then I hope you like dark green, because the green, leafy vegetables are going to have to do.
Salmon — and any fatty fish, really, like sardines — is rich in omega-3s, those essential fatty acids that, in part, support your cardiovascular system. If you suffer from dry eye, chances are your ophthalmologist has suggested you incorporate omega-3 in your diet. Vegetarians and vegans can look to flax seeds, walnuts and soybeans, and hope they don’t suffer from nut allergies.
Red meat is a source of zinc, which — as is the case with vitamin C — we tend to think of as that supplement we take when we are sick or trying to avoid catching the office cold that’s going around. But scientists have found that people with zinc deficiencies are prone to having poor night vision and cloudy cataracts. Who knew?
Vegetarians can turn to milk and other dairy products, while vegans can look to dried beans, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals and nuts.
All those tiny capillaries in your eyes, much like your major arteries, need to remain unclogged. So just remember that eating a heart-healthy diet will not only help keep that ticker going but also help your eyes stay healthy.