A Dietitian Reveals Her Favorite Foods For Optimal Eye Health
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and wellness. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
At mbg, we know that optimizing our eyesight is an integral part of our well-being. In terms of healthy aging, it's crucial to protect our eyes—vision is especially vulnerable to degeneration as we age. That's why it's important to incorporate eye care into our wellness routine. It's also the reason we focused our sixth Supper Series event on vision and hosted it on World Sight Day1.
That said, we also consulted registered dietitian Maya Feller, R.D., on the best foods for better eye health (yes, the list includes carrots!). Like many aspects of health, nutrition is key, so feel free to use Feller's tips as the foundation for eye care.
First, why is eye health so important?
According to Feller, our eyes truly are windows to the soul. "Clear eyes are an indicator of internal health," she says on the mindbodygreen podcast.
What Feller means is, we can recognize signs of certain health complications through our eyes. In particular, Feller has seen blood vessels burst in the eyes of patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure. While that conjures a pretty intense image, it's interesting that our eyes have the ability to showcase what's going on with our health.
She also notes that people who have diabetes have a significant amount of redness and yellowness in their eyes, which relates to their internal endocrine dysfunction. So, we should think of our eyes as our master communicators—they're a great way to see (pun very much intended) into what's going on underneath the surface.
That's why, according to Feller, it's important to keep our eyes sharp and healthy, starting with foods that provide essential eye-healthy nutrients and antioxidants.
These are the best foods for eye health, according to Feller.
Antioxidant-rich foods have been shown to reduce the risk of macular degeneration, says Feller. "It's not going to be the end-all, be-all," she notes. "But it slows the progression of some of those diseases."
Specifically, she mentions lutein and zeaxanthin as the star antioxidants for eye health. Studies have shown that these two antioxidants can reduce the risk of cataracts, age-related macular decline, and other chronic eye diseases2. Even better, these antioxidants can be found in local supermarket favorites—spinach, corn, broccoli, and eggs, to name a select few.
But in terms of vitamins, carrots reign supreme in Feller's eyes. "Of course I love carrots, right?" she jokes. Carrots seem to be the quintessential eye-healthy snack, but there's a perfectly good reason they've earned the title: Carrots have a remarkably high vitamin-A content, which has been shown to play a role in preventing age-related eye disease3.
The next vegetables on Feller's vision-boosting grocery list are those of the leafy green kind—think kale, spinach, and dandelion greens. These veggies are rich in vitamin K, which is primarily known for keeping arteries from clogging. However, research has shown that this vitamin is beneficial for eye health as well4, especially as we age.
Finally, we couldn't discuss eye health without mentioning berries—they're antioxidant powerhouses that are great for our eyes. The antioxidants in anthocyanins (what gives berries their deep red, purple, and blue hues) have been shown to help with the prevention of macular degeneration5. It's no surprise that Feller makes sure to toss some berries in her cart at the farmers market—and she's partial to the ones with the darkest colors. "I love blueberries and blackberries," she says.
- Leafy greens (kale, spinach, and dandelion greens)
So the next time you go grocery shopping, you might want to add some of these eye-healthy foods to your basket. After all, eye care is crucial, and employing preventive measures through nutrition is an easy first step.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.