Cataract prevention begins with nutrition. A diet high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and colorful fruits and vegetables can preserve healthy vision.
One in six Americans over the age of 40 has a developing cataract. Age is the leading cause of cataracts, but the foods you eat play a significant role in cataract formation.
How to Prevent Cataracts Naturally
You can prevent or delay cataract formation by avoiding smoking, limiting alcohol and eating a nutrient-dense diet. Here are four foods that provide good nutrition for eye health and prevent cataracts naturally.
Eggs contain high amounts of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 fatty acid that is important for cell, muscle and nerve function. Research suggests omega-3 fatty acids may protect eyes against cataracts, dry eye syndrome and macular degeneration. Egg yolks contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients that protect eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.
Suggestion: Enjoy eggs scrambled, poached or sunny side up with a slice of whole grain toast in the morning. Top your salad with a hard-boiled egg. It is a great source of protein and a meat substitute.
Broccoli is also a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin. These powerful antioxidants reduce inflammation and prevent cell damage from free radicals.
Suggestion: Steam, roast or saute broccoli with other vegetables for a healthy side dish. For maximum nutritional benefit, eat raw florets.
Green tea is minimally processed because it is made with unoxidized leaves. It is known to improve blood circulation and lower cholesterol due to its high polyphenol content. Polyphenols reduce inflammation and maintain cellular function.
Researchers from the University of Scranton discovered black and green tea lowered ocular glucose levels in rodents and reduced their cataract risk by 50 percent.
Suggestion: Drink green tea daily. Whether you prefer green tea hot or chilled, your eyes will be nourished by a healthy dose of antioxidants.
Oranges are a rich source of vitamin C, an essential antioxidant for strong blood vessels in the eyes and other parts of the body. A study in the Journal of Nutrition found high levels of vitamin C reduced cataract risk by 64 percent.
Suggestion: Instead of drinking orange juice in the morning, eat a fresh orange. Fresh oranges have an additional nutritional benefit because they contain potassium, fiber, folate and calcium.
Spinach and Leafy Greens
Spinach, kale, chard and other leafy greens are high in lutein, which is related to vitamin A and beta carotene. These essential nutrients protect eye tissues from degenerative disease and sun damage. Leafy greens also contain iron, folate and vitamin K, which are essential for strong vision.
Suggestion: Buy organic leafy greens if possible. Organic greens often contain higher amounts of lutein.
Make an Appointment with Your Ophthalmologist
Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet will help prevent cataracts naturally and improve your overall wellness. Talk to your eye doctor about proper nutrition for eye health and safe ways to exercise. It is never too late to start good eating habits.