During this period of lockdown, it’s really important to look after our eyes. Especially as opticians are restricted from carrying out regular eye tests at the moment.
Trying to eat a balanced diet is essential not just for general wellbeing but also to help us to protect our eyes from potential health conditions.
Our body’s own heroes, ‘Antioxidants’
A good diet provides us with nutrients that can protect our bodies against substances called “oxidants” which can cause disease and inflammation. These are counteracted by ‘antioxidants’ which are found as vitamins and minerals in a healthy diet, for example, vitamins A C and E. A good source of these antioxidants comes from fruit and vegetables such as oranges, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables. Also nuts, seeds and dairy products.
Recently scientists have been looking at the impact of other antioxidants; lutein and zeaxanthin. Both are yellow plant pigments found in yellow and orange fruit and vegetables such as yellow and orange peppers. Surprisingly green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and broccoli also have high levels of lutein – you know how these vegetable start to turn yellow as they age? This is the lutein that you can see.
The human body cannot make lutein or zeaxanthin; they have to be eaten. Studies suggest that consuming at least 10mg of lutein per day has the most beneficial effects on macular pigment levels.
Omega 3 is also said to have an impact on eye health. This is essentially a fatty acid found in oily fish, as well as some nuts and seeds such as walnuts and flaxseed.
So, what should I eat?
It’s important to have a wide range of foods in your diet that include fruit and vegetables high in antioxidants – 5 a day at a minimum. You can find a handy list of eye friendly foods here http://www.visionmatters.org.uk/downloads/nutrition-and-the-eye.pdf
And to help you we’ve got some great recipes to help you keep your eyes healthy.