15 July 2019, Dubai – United Arab Emirates: From managing our weight, fighting diseases, to giving us the energy we need to work or study each day, there are many well-known benefits to a healthy and balanced diet.
Making the correct choices when it comes to what you eat each day can also play a significant role in keeping your eyes healthy and maintaining your vision throughout your lifetime.
As well as treating a range of vision-related ailments each day, Doctors at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai explain to patients how their daily food choices can have a huge impact on their eyes.
Dr. Luisa Sastre explains how a rich and varied diet filled with some of the most common foods found in most people’s kitchens are essential to the health of your eyes.
“A healthy diet can play a significant role in preventing the development of diseases like macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy,” says Dr. Sastre.
“There is evidence that certain nutrients protect our body from damaging substances. These nutrients are called antioxidants and are found in many common and popular foods. They play a vital role in the health of the retina.”
A diet rich in foods such as eggs, fish, fruit, nuts, citrus fruits, leafy greens, and, yes, even carrots, actively promotes healthy vision.
Meat isn’t off the menu either, with beef, lamb, and turkey all beneficial thanks the amount of zinc they contain, which helps delay age related sight loss.
Dr. Sastre also recommends oysters, which contain essential zinc and copper, while dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants and essential nutrients.
“It’s easy to make the right dietary choices when it comes to looking after the health of your eyes,” says Dr. Sastre. “There are so many foods that have been proven to be beneficial that almost every kind of diet, personal taste and food choice is catered to.”
“These foods can easily be incorporated into a person’s daily eating habits and are going to have a big impact on your overall health and that of your eyes.”
For optimum health benefits, Dr. Sastre recommends eating five portions of fruits and very lightly cooked vegetables per day, as well as two servings of cold-water fish (salmon, sardines, herring) each week.
“Make your plate as colourful as possible,” says Dr. Sastre. “Think of each meal as if you’re making a rainbow with lots of different types fresh, natural and brightly coloured foods served together.
“If you eat a healthy diet including at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, you should not need a supplement.”
While eating correctly can play a significant role in maintaining the health of your eyes, it is equally important to avoid foods that can be harmful to your vision if consumed in large amounts over a period of time. These include sugary and salty items as well as foods high in saturated and trans fats.
“Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes and the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness. If you are a diabetic, you should avoid sugar,” says Dr. Sastre.
“The same applies to salt. If you are hypertensive you should try to limit the amount of salt that you eat to no more than 2,300 milligrams (about one teaspoon of salt) a day. That includes all the salt you eat, whether it was added in cooking or at the table, or already present in food products.”
If you suffer from high cholesterol, Dr. Sastre advises avoiding saturated fat (found in some meats, dairy products, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods) as well as trans fats (mostly in foods made with hydrogenated oils and fats, such as stick margarine, crackers, and french fries).
“Instead of these bad fats, try healthier fats such as lean meat, nuts, and unsaturated oils like olive, and sunflower oils,” says Dr. Sastre.
“The old saying ‘you are what you eat’ is profoundly true to this day. What we eat has a massive impact on our health and our entire system, and that especially means our eyes.”
Dr. Sastre’s top 10 foods for healthy vision:
- Nuts and Seeds: Legumes contain healthy fats, vitamin E and copper, which are essential to maintaining the biochemical functions of the body and could play a role in maintaining a healthy retina.
- Fish: Many fish are rich in Omega 3 fatty acid. They have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect that helps your heart and brain stay healthy, as well as your retina. The recommendation is to eat at least two servings of cold-water fish per week. Salmon, sardines, and herring are top sources of Omega-3s; halibut and tuna are also good sources.
- Eggs: Eggs contain healthy fats, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important nutrients. Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that act as natural sunblock for the macula (the central area of the retina), absorbing the damaging blue wavelengths of light.
- Colourful Foods: Such as oranges, sweet corn and peppers contain zeaxanthin. These foods need to be consumed in our diet as the human body does not produce these antioxidants naturally. They should be very lightly cooked because over-cooking them may destroy the pigments.
- Meats: Beef, turkey and lamb contain zinc, which promotes eye health and helps delay age-related sight loss.
- Oysters: Oysters contain essential zinc and copper. It is important to consume a good amount of zinc as a deficiency may lead to poor night vision.
- Leafy Greens: Leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and lettuce are rich in lutein.
- Dark Chocolate: Contains less milk as well as sugar. It boasts high amounts of antioxidants and essential nutrients. Consuming dark chocolate promotes better overall health.
- Carrots: Carrots are rich in vitamin A and beta carotene. Vitamin A is important for healthy vision as it helps protect your retina. Deficiency in Vitamin A is a leading cause of blindness and can lead to eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Citrus Fruits: Fruits such as lemons, oranges, and grapefruits contain high amounts of vitamin C which help fight age-related eye problems.