Summer is here! I bet you’re all looking forward to long, hot, sunny days, lazing around the pool, hanging out in the backyard or park and of course, barbecues! Summertime cuisine is quite possibly the best of the year, I mean come on, hamburgers, every kind of salad imaginable, ice cream, crazy colorful and tasty fruits and veggies. Well some of it isn’t necessarily the healthiest, you’d actually be surprised at what is good for your body… and your eyes!
There are a number of different nutrients that help improve the health of our eyes, such as vitamin C, selenium, vitamin E, lutein, omega-3, zinc, zeaxanthin, and beta carotene. These nutrients in particular help to reduce the risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. You already eat many of the foods that contain these nutrients, but being more aware of which foods contain which nutrients will help to ensure you include more of them in your meals and snacks this summer.
Berries are a popular summer food choice because there’s so many ways you can use them. You can mix them all up into a delicious fruit salad, use them as toppings on sponge cakes or frozen yogurt, or blend them up into a tasty summertime smoothie.
Blueberries are an excellent fruit choice for improving your overall health, but since they contain vitamin C they will help your eye health as well.
Raspberries are especially good for your eyes because they contain vitamin C, vitamin E, and omega-3 fats as well as many other nutrients.
Strawberries contain vitamin C, and while they aren’t as beneficial for your eye health as raspberries, they taste just as good, if not better.
Green fruits and vegetables can be included into every meal you eat this summer in some way, and they should be because they are chock full of eye healthy nutrients. You can make a variety of great tasting summer salads, include them as side dishes, or snack on them throughout the day.
Spinach is probably the best green vegetable to eat for your eye health. Spinach has vitamin C, lutein, and beta carotene. If you don’t usually like spinach, there is a way you can still benefit from its nutritious properties – toss a handful of spinach leaves into a blender with a mix of different fruits and make a smoothie. The spinach will turn the smoothie green, but the fruit flavors will overpower the spinach flavor so you won’t taste it at all.
Broccoli has vitamin C and lutein and is great to eat as a snack or tossed in salads and soups.
Bell peppers (green, red, and yellow) are packed full of vitamin C and eating just a half a cup of this tasty vegetable each day will greatly improve your vision.
Avocados contain vitamin E, so if one of your favorite summertime dishes includes guacamole you’re already on the right track to keeping your eyes healthy.
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Orange and Yellow Fruits and Veggies
Orange and yellow fruits and veggies such as sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, pumpkin, and mangoes are all great sources of beta carotene and vitamin A. These fruits and veggies are great in salads, or even eaten by themselves. Vitamin A and beta carotene, along with reducing the risk for cataracts and macular degeneration, help with night blindness, retinal health, and improving dry eyes.
Oranges and pineapples provide an excellent source of vitamin C. Toss those in with your fruit salad or smoothie for a refreshing citrusy taste or drink a glass of orange juice or pineapple juice with your breakfast each day.
You can’t have a summer barbecue or picnic without meat, so we can’t forget to include meat here either.
Turkey has a lot of zinc in it and is perfect for having on hand for sandwiches or salads when you want a light, but filling meal.
Beef also contains zinc, among many other very good nutrients, so get that grill ready and know that you are making your eyes healthier as you eat that burger or steak.
Fish, such as salmon, trout, and sardines, are chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for great eye health and combating macular degeneration. It is recommended to eat at least two servings per week of fish containing omega-3 for good eye health. Have a nice summer lunch or dinner of fish and a salad a couple times a week and you’ll be good to go.
Other Good Foods for Eye Health
The foods listed above are not even close to all of the foods that can help your eye health, but if we tried to list them all here, this article would never end. The ones listed here are good, popular choices for summertime meals, but they’re not the only choices. In most cases, foods can be grouped by colors, such as greens or oranges and yellow, etc. like we have them listed here, and the ones in those particular color groups often have the same health benefits, though some may have less or more than others.
Just remember that along with eating nutritious foods, if you want to have healthy eyes, you need to make sure and have eye exams regularly. It is recommended that children have eye exams at about six months of age, again at age three, and then before they start school.
People between the ages of 20 and 30 should have eye exams every two years. In your late thirties, you should begin having yearly eye exams because this is when changes in vision or various eye diseases could occur.
If you have diabetes, it is especially important that you receive yearly eye exams as those with diabetes are much more likely to develop glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy. And, of course, if you begin to experience vision troubles, or you find yourself squinting a lot, you begin developing headaches regularly, or you experience any other kind of vision trouble or pain, you should get an eye exam as soon as possible.
In the meantime, get your sunglasses out (make sure they have proper UV protection!) and enjoy your summer!