It’s time to think more about our eye health this month since March is Save Your Vision Month, the American Optometric Association’s annual campaign to remind the public to take care of their eyes to prevent future vision problems. Eye health not only includes annual eye exams but also screen time considerations, sunlight protection, and eating the right foods. There are many foods you can eat to help support your eyes and protect your vision in the future. The following can help you make smart “eye health” purchases next time you go to the store, as well as plan nutrient-rich meals and snacks.
Everyday Superfoods for Your Eyes
One of the easiest ways to remember foods that support vision is to think of the word, “color.” Fruits and vegetables that are bright, colorful, and deeply hued with green, purple, blue, red, orange, pink, and yellow are all wonderful foods to eat for vision. And, depending on the color, they may vary in their content of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Colorful produce, along with other foods listed below, provides the nutrients needed to support eye health to ward off age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and possibly dry eye syndrome.
Leafy green vegetables including spinach, kale, chard, arugula, collard greens, and other green veggies all contain carotenoids, more specifically lutein, and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidants that support our vision. Lutein and zeaxanthin are found naturally in the retina, and consuming them may protect against vision loss and chronic eye diseases.
Blue and Purple:
Foods that are deeply hued with colors of blue and purple such as blackberries, blueberries, purple sweet potatoes and regular purple (mini) potatoes, acaî fruit, eggplant, and others contain anthocyanins. They are another class of antioxidants that emerging research shows may have protective effects against chronic eye disease. These foods are also rich in polyphenols and vitamin C, which may lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Orange, Yellow, Pink, and Red:
Orange, yellow, and red-colored fruits and vegetables include carrots, sweet potato, winter squash, cantaloupe, oranges, grapefruit, goji berries, guava, red bell peppers, strawberries, and many more. Many of these foods contain beta-carotene, another carotenoid (an antioxidant) that is formed into vitamin A in our bodies, thus playing an important part in supporting eye health and the prevention of eye diseases. These foods are also great sources of vitamin C, another antioxidant that protects against cell damage.
Healthy Fats and Lean Proteins:
Avocados, olives, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, chia, flax, and seafood are excellent sources of essential fatty acids, which are important for tear production, supporting the eye’s oily outer layer and reducing eye inflammation. Many of these foods are also an important source of vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that may decrease the risk of age-related eye diseases. Other good foods for our eyes are lean sources of protein, including wild seafood, omega-3-rich eggs, plant-proteins, and lean dairy products, like Lifeway Kefir.
Fermented Dairy, Such as Lifeway Kefir
There is emerging research showing a connection between the health of the gut microbiome and the health of our eye, called the gut-eye axis. When the microbiome is in a state of dysbiosis, there may be an increased risk for eye diseases such as uveitis, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and dry eye. Prebiotics and probiotics such as those found in kefir may offer a therapeutic approach to help maintain the health of our microbiome and that of our vision. In addition, kefir and other fermented dairy products are natural sources of vitamin A, which is necessary for healthy eyes. Whether you choose our low-fat plain, low-fat flavored kefir, or our organic whole milk kefir, know you are making a healthy choice for your eyes.
Healthy Recipes for Your Eyes:
Try out the following nutrient-rich recipes for your eyes, and be sure to visit our recipe section to find more that support healthy vision!