Eyes aren’t just the window to your soul, they’re the window by which you experience the world. If don’t eat enough of these foods that are good for your eyes, you won’t see much.
Unfortunately, eyes are sensitive to certain lifestyle factors, such as poor nutrition, smoking, and spending too much time in front of a screen. They’re also prone to deteriorate as you age, making it harder to read, drive, work, play sports, and engage in your favorite hobbies. Eyesight is not something you want to lose.
What Affects Eyesight?
Eyesight is a precious sense that can rarely be restored once it’s gone. The most common causes of poor eyesight include (1):
- Macular degeneration
- Diabetic retinopathy (caused by diabetes)
- Eye injuries
- Birth defects
Poor eyesight is characterized as (2):
- Loss of vision acuity (inability to see objects clearly)
- Unable to see as large an area as a healthy person
- Inability to look at light
- Double vision
- Visual distortion
- Perceptual difficulties
- Any combination of the above
The Importance of Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble group of nutrients which include of fat-soluble retinoids, including retinol, retinal, and retinyl esters.
According to the National Institutes of Health: “Vitamin A is critical for vision as an essential component of rhodopsin, a protein that absorbs light in the retinal receptors, and because it supports the normal differentiation and functioning of the conjunctival membranes and cornea.” (3)
Vitamin A even plays a role in maintaining the digestive tract and supporting immune function.
The nutrient also impacts cell growth and differentiation, ensuring that all your organs work as they should. The daily recommended value for vitamin A is 5,000 IU for adults and children alike.
26 Foods that are Good for Your Eyes
Here’ what you need to eat to keep your eyesight sharp!
This orange vegetable has a reputation for a reason. Packed with beta-carotene, an antioxidant which is converted into vitamin A (4). One medium carrot alone contains 200% of your daily value of vitamin A (5).
Plus, one major study found that beta-carotene combined with zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E and copper (which are all found in carrots too) can slow the progression of macular degeneration (6).
2. Iceberg Lettuce
You may think that dark leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and swiss chard are the only leaves worth eating, but you’re missing out.
Iceberg lettuce is a good source of vitamin A and fiber while being low in calories (7). To increase absorption of this fat-soluble vitamin, make your own olive oil and apple cider vinaigrette (8).
3. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes, like carrots, have beta-carotene to thank for their vivid orange color. 1 cup of cooked sweet potato has more than 7% your daily value of vitamin A (9). Purple sweet potato, on the other hand, promotes eye cell survival and division and protects eye cells from damage (10).
4. Cod Liver Oil
This excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, which can help reduce abnormal blood vessel growth (11). Available in both liquid and capsule form, cod liver oil is also a great source of vitamin D. This vitamin is crucial for good blood supply flowing to the retinas (12). What’s more, the supplement also contains vitamin A.
5. Turkey Liver
Like cod liver oil, turkey liver is an incredibly rich source of vitamin A. A single liver has over 1000% of your daily recommended intake. Next Thanksgiving, make sure to keep the giblets (13)!
Paprika is well-known by anyone who loves South American food. Since it’s a spice, paprika is an easy way to add a bit of extra vitamin A to any meal. After all, 1 tablespoon provides almost all the vitamin A you need (14). Use it to spice up your next chili, stir fry, or even over baked potatoes.
7. Red Pepper
Red pepper, like paprika, is incredibly beneficial for your eyes. It’s flavorful, packed with vitamin C and E, and a great source of vitamin A too (15).
These juicy fruits are perfect for breakfast, snacks, or dessert. Best of all, they have all the eye-healthy nutrients you need to keep your vision sharp (16). Don’t forget to eat the peel!
9. Whole Milk
Milk isn’t for everyone, but it has its benefits: Organic milk has vitamin A and D as well as protein (17). Since it contains fat, it can help your body absorb some of these vital nutrients.
10. Mustard Greens
These greens are easy to grow and can be enjoyed raw or boiled. These leaves have a slightly peppery taste and require very little seasoning. They’re even high in vitamin A, C, K, and much, much more (18).
11. Butternut Squash
Like sweet potatoes, butternut squash owes its vibrant pigment to a healthy dose of beta-carotene. Best of all, a cup of cooked squash contains more than four times your daily recommended value of vitamin A. It’s also low in calories, high in fiber, and contains vitamin C, E, B6, as well as potassium, magnesium, and manganese (19).
12. Dried Basil
This beloved Italian spice contains up to 15% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin A for every 100 grams (20). Eaten fresh, 100 grams provides all the vitamin A you need in a day (21). Sprinkle a bit on every meal for a quick boost. Basil goes well with anything, from omelets to sauces, stir-frys or even some desserts.
Kale isn’t called a superfood for nothing: it’s a powerhouse of vitamin A, K, C, and so much more (22). It even has a little protein. Kale can be added to smoothies, soups, salads, casseroles, or be made into delicious chips.
Melons aren’t just good for hydration; they’re high in plenty of nutrients. With as little as two wedges of cantaloupe, you can get nearly 100% of your daily value of vitamin A (23). Eat it fresh in a delicious fruit salad, juice it, or scoop it into balls and serve with dessert.
Greens peas are incredibly versatile to use in the kitchen. Best of all, 1 can supplies a third of all the vitamin A you need. Peas also contain plenty of vitamins C, B6 & K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, copper, selenium, and manganese (24).
16. Turnip Greens
If you grow turnips in your garden, make sure not to throw out their leaves! Half a cup of cooked turnip greens is all you need to get your daily value of vitamin A (25).