It’s no secret that fruit and vegetables are good for you because of their many beneficial nutrients. But did you know that produce that is locally grown is even better for you than what you may typically find in the supermarket? Not just better for your overall health, but a local diet even has major benefits for your eyes.
Generally, the fruits and vegetables you buy at most supermarkets have to be transported from elsewhere, and often sit for a long time in a warehouse before being made available for purchase. Plus, farmers and workers pick non-locally grown food long before it fully ripens so that it reaches its destination before going bad.
The fact that it sits for so long before making its way onto store shelves decreases its nutritional value. While it is still nutritious to eat, you aren’t getting the full nutritional impact that you would if you were eating the locally grown variety.
The Health Benefits of Eating a Local Diet
We know fruit and vegetables are essential for maintaining a healthy body. But they are also essential for keeping your eyes healthy and reducing vision impairment. Incorporating fruit and vegetables into your daily diet can decrease your risk of developing eye and vision problems. Some of these common vision problems include glaucoma, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, dry eyes, and night blindness. This is important for adults as well as children, since starting a nutritious diet early can prevent future problems.
It can be hard to determine which fruits and vegetables contain the most beneficial nutrients for your eye health. And what makes it even harder is that fresh produce does not contain nutrition labels.
So, we’ve made a list to make it easier for you to choose the best eye-healthy fruit and vegetables. Here’s a quick breakdown of the eye-healthy nutrients and where you can find them!
Best Nutrients for Your Eyes
Beta-carotene – Found in carrots, spinach, butternut squash, kale, and sweet potatoes. Beta-carotenes help the eyes by reducing inflammation and improving dry eyes. When combined with other nutrients such as zinc and vitamins C and E, it can also help to reduce the risk for developing macular degeneration.
Bioflavonoids – You can find bioflavonoids in citrus fruits like lemons and oranges, as well as in cherries, blueberries, and bilberries. Bioflavonoids help to protect against macular degeneration and cataracts.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin – You’ll find a large source of these nutrients in squash, kale, spinach, collard greens, and turnip greens. These are also great for decreasing your risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.
Vitamin C – Found in red and green bell peppers, strawberries, kale, broccoli, cantaloupe, and oranges, Vitamin C also protects against macular degeneration and cataracts.
This is by no means an extensive list of the nutrients that are healthy for the eyes or of the foods they are found in, but it will provide you with a starting point when buying local produce to promote eye health.
Other Reasons to Buy Locally Grown Food
Aside from the health benefits for your eyes and overall health, there are many other benefits to buying local. One main reason is that local fruit and vegetables taste much better. That’s because locally grown food is truly fresh, which makes a big difference.
When you purchase produce, such as lettuce, from a regular supermarket, it has usually been flown or trucked in from many miles away. Likely, it has been at least a week since it was picked. Conversely, if you were to buy lettuce from a produce stand or farmers’ market in your area, chances are the lettuce was picked that same day or the day before. You can really notice the difference in freshness when you do a taste test to compare the two.
You support your local community’s economy when you purchase locally grown food. The money that you pay to the farmers’ market or produce stand is directly benefiting the farmers and growers in your area. Usually, that money goes back into the community’s businesses and services. Supporting small family businesses is always something we advocate for at Rebuild Your Vision.
Local Diet and the Environment
Buying locally has a big impact on the environment as well. Think about the carbon footprint that is left behind when food is thrown on a truck and transported from one side of the country to the other. Then consider the carbon footprint when the produce only travels from one side of your town to the other. There’s a big difference there.
You have the ability to ask the local farmers and growers how they raise and harvest their crops. This is a great way to find out exactly what you are putting into your body. You can ask them whether or not they use pesticides or other chemicals when they’re growing their crops. Being able to speak one-on-one with the farmer allows you to know more about the food you’re buying and eating. You also may get ideas about how best to prepare the produce you’ve purchased, right from the source!
When Buying Locally Is Not Possible
It’s not always possible in some areas to grow local foods for one reason or another. But if you still want to take advantage of the benefits to your vision and eye health that fresh food offers, there’s nothing to stop you from attempting to grow your own fruit and vegetables. You’ll be surprised what will grow in a pot on your windowsill!
True, some types of foods just aren’t feasible to grow in your backyard or in your home. But you can still grow the ones that your environment allows and take advantage of the abundance of health benefits they have to offer. Then you can get the rest of the nutrients you need from the produce at the supermarket. More and more supermarkets are pushing for more local produce, so keep an eye on labels and choose local when it’s available! Your eyes and your community will thank you.