Orange foods: carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots
It has often been considered a myth that carrots can help you to see in the dark. Whilst it may be optimistic to hope for cat-eye vision at night time after munching on a couple of carrots, there is evidence to suggest that the vitamins and nutrients present in the vegetables can help to improve eyesight. Carrots, as with some other fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes and cantaloupes, contain high levels of and beta carotene which the body can process into vitamin A. Beta carotene is the most effective and powerful vitamin for maintaining eye health. In fact, some eye drops contain vitamin A which helps to minimise the risk of contracting eye problems such as cataracts and glaucoma. So, whilst carrots and other orange-coloured fruit and vegetables are unlikely to provide instant night time vision, they are undoubtedly beneficial for overall eye health.
Try this: eaten raw in salads for maximum impact or as part of a healthy meal.
Nuts and seeds: almonds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, peanut butter
Nuts and seeds may not be a popular snack but they contain essential levels of vitamin E. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin E is 15mg but most people fail to even consume that. A study of over 3,000 people (aged 43-86) taking a multivitamin or a supplement of C or E for a decade produced results suggesting a 60% lower incidence of cataracts among the group taking a supplement.
Try this: experiment by swapping a packet of crisps for some tasty seeds or nuts to boost your vitamin E levels.
Fish: tuna, salmon, sardines, halibut
It is a well known fact that oily fish boast great health benefits. But how can they help our eyesight? Fish contain omega-3 acids which can help to reduce common eye complaints of dryness, stinging, redness and visual disturbances. Some claims even suggest that babies breastfed from a mother who eats fish have better eyesight than those who don’t. Salmon is believed to contain the highest level of omega-3 acids, with 1,200mg per 60g of fresh fish, whilst canned tuna contains approximately 145mg.
Try this: baked, poached, steamed or grilled; fresh fish is more beneficial than fish oil capsules.
Green vegetables: watercress, spinach, swiss chard
Being told to “eat up your greens” as a child suddenly gains a new significance as getting your five-a-day has never been so important for your eyes. Green vegetables such as spinach and watercress contain Lutein-Zeaxanthin which is beneficial for preventing macular degeneration and may also help to reduce the risk of developing cataracts.
Try this: in a healthy meal or steamed as part of a ‘superfood’ salad.
Poultry: ostrich, turkey (plus oysters, eggs and pumpkin seeds)
Turkey no longer needs to be saved for Christmas day. Both turkey and ostrich are lean meats rich in zinc. Zinc is beneficial for helping the body to absorb vitamin A and helps antioxidant enzymes in the body to reduce free radicals. Other foods rich in zinc include: oysters, eggs, tofu and wheatgerm.
Try this: swap your cereal for eggs for breakfast and try turkey as a healthy alternative with your evening meal.