Two of the most common causes of vision problems are cataracts and AMD. Cataracts are cloud areas in the lens of the eye. AMD or age-related macular degeneration, causes vison loss in the part of our eye that controls our central vision, the macula. These conditions are the leading cause of blindness in those aged 55 years of age and older and more than 25 million people are afflicted with one of these conditions globally.
The antioxidants found in certain vitamins and minerals in our food are thought to play a role in preventing both of these eye conditions. People who consume higher intakes of animal based omega 3 fats have a 60% lower risk of developing AMD compared to those who don’t consume them. Foods that contain quality sources of omega 3 fats include salmon, tuna and sardines.
Foods rich in the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin for example can reduce the risk of these chronic eye diseases. Raw kale is one of the most potent lutein rich foods at 26.5mg per 1 cup serving. The nutrients anthocyanins and astaxanthin also contribute to eye health. Black currants contain some of the highest levels of anthocyanins found in nature, approximately 190 – 270 mg per 100g. There are only 2 main sources of astaxanthin. These are the microalgae that produce it, and the sea creatures that consume the algae e.g. wild caught salmon.
The vitamins A, C and E in particular along with the mineral zinc are all nutrients which contribute to eye health. Sources of vitamin A include raw red peppers, carrots and apricots. Sources of vitamin C include broccoli, oranges and strawberries. Sources of vitamin E include spinach, almonds and sunflower seeds. Zinc is found in red meat, yogurt and chickpeas.
In addition to consuming the right foods, other ways to help contribute to healthy eyesight is to avoid certain foods such as trans-fats, sugars and aspartame. Getting regular exercise, balancing your blood sugar and avoiding cigarettes all contribute to healthier eyesight.
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