Whole Plant Foods for Vision Health

Research shows eating more whole plant foods can help protect against eye disease.  It can also help your overall health.  To keep your eyes healthy, you should eat foods rich in certain vitamins and minerals. These vitamins and minerals are called antioxidants.  Antioxidants help keep our cells and tissues healthy.  The following foods may help to stop or slow certain eye diseases.  This is not an all-inclusive list, but merely a list of those foods most rich in antioxidants to support eye health.

Antioxidants Related to Eye Health

Whole Plant Foods Rich in Antioxidants for Eye Health

Vitamin A/Beta Carotene Important in the formation of skin cells, the cornea of the eye, and all cells that have a high cell turnover rate.  Vitamin A is converted from beta carotene.  Beta carotene primarily functions as an antioxidant. carrots, leafy greens, dandelion greens, apricots, collard greens, kale, spinach, parsely, mustard greens, butternut squash, mangoes, and broccoli
Vitamin C Important in collagen synthesis since it helps to form strong connective tissues and repairs wounds.  Ascorbic acid is the isolated form of Vitamin C and may not have the same effect as the complete Vitamin C molecule, so its best to obtain this vitamin from whole plant foods. acerola cherries, red chili peppers, red or green bell peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, guavas, papaya, organges, cantaloupe, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, grapefruit, and strawberries
Vitamin E The primary function is to prevent free radical damage of unsaturated fatty acids that form the structural component of cell membranes. Red blood cells and neurons are particularly susceptible to free radical damage. sunflower seeds, leafy greens, almonds, sesame seeds, olives.  Fair sources:  avocados, spinach, pecans, carrots, walnuts, bananas, dulse and tomatoes
Essential Fatty Acids– Fatty acids play critical roles in numerous body functions including creating strength and fluidity in the cell membranes.  There are two we must consume from our diet- Omega 3 and Omega 6 (in the proper ratio). leafy green vegetables, flax, hemp, and chia seeds.  To lesser degrees in walnuts and soybeans
Zinc– Very important for growth and development, immune system function, neurological function,  wound healing, and vison.  Can be problematic for vegans because most plant sources also contain phytic acid which binds to zinc making it less absorbable. pecans, Brazil nuts, rye, walnuts, almonds, dulse, kelp, pumpink seeds and buckwheat.  Also high in zinc:  black pepper, paprika, mustard, chili powder, thyme, and cinnamon
Lutein & Zeaxanthin– Together form the yellowish macular pigment that helps protect the lipid-rich cell membranes of the vision receptors in the back of the eye from free radical damage.  Both are necessary for the macula to be functional. leafy greens, spinach, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, turnip greens, collard greens, and all yellow fruits and vegetables.


For recommended dietary allowance of nutrients: http://www.nutrition.gov/smart-nutrition-101/dietary-reference-intakes-rda

Visit an eye care professional for regular eye exams for diagnosis, treatment, or  determination of the function of your eyes. 


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