Anyone concerned with maintaining healthy eye function may want to add more broccoli, sardines and blueberries to their diet, according to the recommendations from an expert at Loyola University Chicago.
Several nutrients are essential to eye health, and some may even help to improve eyesight and prevent problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Dr James McDonnell, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the Loyola University Health System, has compiled a list of these nutrients and the foods that contain them.
*Omega-3: Protection from macular generation is yet another benefit of this remarkable fatty acid, which by now is well known to nutrition-savvy consumers. Good sources include oily fish (sardines, mackerel), flaxseeds and canola oil.
*Anthocyanins: These pigments, which range in colour from bright red to blue, can help maintain the health of the cornea and of the blood vessels throughout the eye. Blueberries and blackcurrants are rich in these colorful nutrients.
Zeaxanthin found in spinach can help reduce risk of age-related macular degeneration. (Photo: Shutterstock)
*Astaxanthin: This pigment is a powerful antioxidant with the power to stave off cataracts and even blindness. Seaweed and wild salmon (not farmed) are among the top sources.
*Vitamin D: Moderate sun exposure is one way to ensure an adequate supply of Vitamin D, and consuming fish oils, liver and egg yolks can provide an additional boost. Supplementing with Vitamin D3 has been shown to reduce retinal inflammation and even improve vision.
*Zeaxanthin: Found in dark leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, collard greens and spinach, this nutrient may help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
*Bioflavonoids: These antioxidants belong to the polyphenols family and may reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. They are found in citrus fruits, cherries, tea and even red wine.
*Beta-carotene: Found in carrots, sweet potatoes and butternut squash, this provitamin helps to improve night vision and to prevent dry eyes.
*Lutein: Supplementing with this carotenoid, which is found in organic eggs from pastured hens, may help prevent macular degeneration.