Eating plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables is not only good for your body's overall health, but it also supports and maintains good eye health and helps prevent eye disease. Antioxidant is a collective name for substances like vitamins and minerals that protect your body's cells from unstable molecules known as free radicals. By understanding which fruits and vegetables are especially beneficial to eye health, you can make diet choices that support ongoing good vision.
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are rich in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are natural pigments that help prevent macular degeneration, which can cause blindness. Lutein is naturally found in foods like spinach, romaine lettuce and broccoli, while zeaxanthin is found in foods like kale and spinach. Collard greens and turnip greens are great sources of both antioxidants.
Carrots and Sweet Potatoes
Carrots and sweet potatoes contain the antioxidant beta carotene -- a natural pigment that is converted to vitamin A in your body. Beta carotene is valuable in promoting good night vision. According to University of Maryland Medical Center, people who eat many foods that contain vitamin A, such as fresh carrots and sweet potatoes, also have a lower risk of developing cataracts than people who don't. Other deep yellow-orange fruits and vegetables, such as winter squash, cantaloupe, apricots, peaches and mangoes are also excellent sources of beta carotene.
Berries and Bell Peppers
Red berries and bell peppers are fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C, an essential antioxidant for maintaining good eye health. Vitamin C combines with other antioxidants to help protect your eyes from macular degeneration. You must provide your body with this vitamin daily since it cannot make or store vitamin C. Along with red berries and bell peppers, include other vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables like blueberries, cranberries, watermelon and tomatoes in your meal plan.
Avocados contain lutein and vitamins C and E, all of which support healthy vision. Adult macular degeneration, also known as AMD, is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. The disorder affects the central part of the retina, or macula, resulting in a loss of clear central vision. According to New York University's Langone Medical Center, a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial performed on 3,640 individuals in the early stages of AMD suggested that vitamin E, when combined with vitamin C, beta carotene and zinc, significantly slowed the progression of early AMD.
Soybeans are an excellent source of zinc, an essential trace mineral found in every cell of your body. Zinc not only plays an important role in healing wounds and in proper immune system functions, it is also essential for good vision. In fact, the University of Maryland Medical Center reports that night blindness is a symptom of zinc deficiency.
- New York State: Department of Health: Look to Fruits and Vegetables for Good Eye Health
- Columbia University: Go Ask Alice: Antioxidants
- North Dakota State University: Nourish Your Eyes With Colorful Fruits and Vegetables This Spring
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin A (Retinol)
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin E
- New York University Langone Medical Center: Avocado: The Misunderstood Fruit
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin C
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Zinc
- HealthAliciousNess.com: Avocados, Raw, All Commercial Varieties
- New York University Langone Medical Center: Department of Ophthalmology: Macular Degeneration