What foods should we eat to protect or even improve our good eyesight?
Which foods can improve eyesight?
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), we should consume foods rich in lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, essential fatty acids, zinc, vitamin E, and vitamin C.
Foods rich in these nutrients can preserve your vision, or can reduce the risk of certain eye diseases.
What is beta-carotene?
Beta carotene is a red pigment. Most noteworthy, it’s found only in plants.
Many fruits and vegetables are good sources.
Beta-Carotene is a member of the carotenes. They are powerful antioxidants. Moreover, it’s the most common form of carotene.
Beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E are antioxidant vitamins.
The human body converts beta carotene into vitamin A. Vitamin A is also called retinol.
As beta-carotene, is converted into vitamin A in the body, it’s also called provitamin A.
There are other carotenoids also, but beta-carotene is the most popular and well-studied.
Side effects of beta-carotene and vitamin A
We can consume two types of vitamin A from food:
- preformed vitamin A, only in animal products and
- provitamin A carotenoids. The most popular is the beta-carotene. Only in plants.
Vitamin A from animal products is metabolized easily in the body, to active forms of vitamin A.
Contrary, the conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A isn’t effective.
So… are animal products better sources of vitamin A? Not exactly…
What foods cause vitamin A toxicity?
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is stored in the liver. If you consume large amounts of animal products, you accumulate vitamin A in your body.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) we shouldn’t consume more than 3 mg of vitamin A from animal sources.
Also, you should be careful, if you take vitamin supplements.
Supplements with eating excessive amounts of food rich in vitamin A can cause vitamin A toxicity.
Vitamin A toxicity may be dangerous. For instance, it can cause headaches, or even liver damage.
Therefore, vitamin A toxicity can mainly happen due to supplements. Animal products can be harmful in some cases, as well.
Can too much beta-carotene be harmful?
Luckily, eating plants won’t be a problem. Our bodies transform only the amount of beta-carotene we need.
There’s no danger of getting too much vitamin A from plant sources.
What is lutein and zeaxanthin?
Lutein and zeaxanthin are important carotenoids. They are present only in plants. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources.
Moreover, lutein and zeaxanthin are powerful antioxidants. They are known for protecting our eyesight.
Studies have shown that they can reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases.
Most noteworthy, lutein and zeaxanthin can help on reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
What are essential fatty acids?
Healthy fats are important for the proper function of the body.
Furthermore, seeds and nuts are a better choice. They are packed with nutrients and fiber as well.
Moreover, research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids are the most important type of fat.
Omega-3 is essential for proper visual development and retinal function.
Walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Recommended daily intake
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), we can slow the progression of eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration, if we consume daily:
- vitamin C, 500 mg
- vitamin E, 400 IU
- lutein, 10 mg
- zeaxanthin, 2 mg
- zinc, 80 mg
- copper, 2 mg
There isn’t a daily beta-carotene recommendation. It’s difficult to be established. Beta-carotene from supplements, beta-carotene from food, and vitamin A from animal products all are absorbed differently from the body. So, the FDA introduced a new index for vitamin A. It’s called RAE. We should consume 700-900 RAE daily. More here.
Most noteworthy, better consuming all the nutrients you need from food. Studies have proved that whole foods may be more effective than individual compounds for lowering disease risk.
So, maybe it’s better to drink a fresh squeezed orange juice, than any vitamin C pill.
Foods with beta-carotene
The whole list of all the foods that are high in beta-carotene:
(mg per 100 gr)
(mg per 100 gr)
|turnip greens||7||coriander leaf, dried||3,4|
|dandelion greens||5,9||thyme, dried||2,3|
|red sweet pepper||1,6|
|onion young leaves||0,6|
Foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin
Moreover, it follows a list of foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin:
|Vegetables||Lutein + zeaxanthin |
(mcg per 100 gr)
|Spices||Lutein + zeaxanthin|
(mcg per 100 gr)
|dandelion greens||13610||parsley dried||2428|
|turnip greens||12825||coriander leaf, dried||2428|
|onion young leaves||1137|
Moringa powder is so good for your eyesight. It’s the best source of beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Furthermore, it’s rich in vitamin C and vitamin E. You can find more about the importance of moringa powder for eye health here.
Other foods for good eyesight
We should consume foods rich in vitamin C and zinc as well.
You don’t need supplements. There are many foods that promote good eyesight. There are so many options.
You can see the whole list of foods rich in vitamin C here.
Foods rich in zinc here.