Healthy Eating Can Protect Eyesight, from the August 2013 Harvard Health Letter

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Vitamins and minerals in food may help prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. These include vitamins A, C, and E; the mineral zinc; the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin; and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

When it comes to protecting your vision, what you eat may affect what you see, reports the August 2013 Harvard Health Letter. Vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients found in food play a role in preventing two common causes of vision problems: cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Cataracts are cloudy areas in the lens of the eye, while macular degeneration is a deterioration of the macula, the part of the eye that controls central vision. "While there is no definite proof, some studies suggest that eating a diet rich in certain nutrients may help," says Dr. Ivana Kim, associate professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.

Nutrients thought to be responsible for eye protection include antioxidant vitamins and minerals, lutein and zeaxanthin, and the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). How can you get enough of these natural vision helpers? Load up on foods that deliver them:

lutein, zeaxanthin: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, corn, eggs, kale, nectarines, oranges, papayas, romaine lettuce, spinach, squash
omega-3 fatty acids: flaxseed, flaxseed oil, halibut, salmon, sardines, tuna, walnuts
vitamin A: apricots, cantaloupe (raw), carrots, mangos, red peppers (raw), ricotta cheese (part-skim), spinach, sweet potatoes
vitamin C: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, red peppers, strawberries
vitamin E: almonds, broccoli, peanut butter, spinach, sunflower seeds, wheat germ
zinc: chickpeas, oysters, pork chops, red meat, yogurt

Read the full-length article: "Top foods to help protect your vision"

Also in the August 2013 issue of the Harvard Health Letter:

  •     5 ways to improve your foot and ankle health
  •     Rethinking fiber and hydration for better digestive health
  •     Boost heart health with meditation, including tips from a world-renowned expert

The Harvard Health Letter is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $16 per year. Subscribe at or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).

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Natalie Ramm
Harvard Health Publications
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