Although nutritional supplements are often considered the “big guns” in the battle against blindness, foods are the foot soldiers in the daily skirmishes against age-related vision loss. Load up your kitchen with these valuable allies and keep your sights on your goal—healthy vision for a lifetime.
Cultivate diversity at the dinner table. Green tea, green apples, red or white wine, onions, eggplant, and black currant juice are all rich in quercetin, a powerful antioxidant and bioflavonoid. Whole-food supplements rich in quercetin include blue-green algae and spirulina. Quercetin strengthens the walls of blood vessels in the eyes and helps protect against buildup of sorbitol, a type of sugar that can cause the lens to become less flexible and possibly more susceptible to cataracts. In addition, quercetin coupled with vitamin C may help reduce sinus congestion, reducing your reliance on anti-histamines which are implicated in the development of cataracts.
The power of garlic is well known, but its equally prolific cousin, the humble onion, is only now beginning to be recognized for its health-supporting merits. Both are rich in hundreds of bioflavonoid compounds that support the health of your heart, eyes, bones, and even your brain. (Chew on a few sprigs of parsley to counteract onion or garlic breath.) And here’s a bonus: garlic and onions, both raw and cooked, will help you control your blood sugar, fending off chronic degenerative diseases like adult-onset (type II) diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease.
Eggs can help prevent macular degeneration; in fact, eating egg yolks significantly increases levels of the carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein in the bloodstream, as do dark green leafy veggies such as spinach. It’s really unfortunate that eggs are often considered a high cholesterol food. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the medical profession still hasn’t fully accepted the fact that eggs don’t raise cholesterol levels and are, in fact, very good for you. I wonder how many eye problems might have been prevented had this misinformation never seen the light of day.
Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, a well-known antioxidant. But carrots also contain more than 400 other types of carotenes—such as alpha-carotene, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin. There is increasing evidence that it’s the combined effects of these carotenes that make carrots and so many other brightly colored vegetables so beneficial.
Nuts, fresh cold-water fish, and flax seeds are rich in essential fatty acids that counteract bad fats, and cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, watercress, mustard greens, horseradish, turnips, rutabagas, and kohlrabi are teeming with glutathione, considered the “granddaddy” of antioxidants.
“Superfoods” are a special category of nutrient- and enzyme-dense foods. For example, superfoods contain carotenes plus high levels of other complexes, such as flavonoids, tocopherols, amino acids, and enzymes, in highly concentrated form, giving you large benefits from small amounts.
Spirulina is a superfood belonging to the group of blue-green algae (another superfood, by the way). With all eight essential amino acids and high levels of vitamin B12, it surpasses raw wheat germ in levels of vitamin E and is an excellent source of essential fatty acids.
In addition, spirulina is composed of dozens of pigments associated with healing. I’ve reviewed scores of research studies on spirulina, including one at the Tokyo College of Medicine and Dentistry that reported halting the progression of geriatric cataracts by adding spirulina to the patients’ regular medications. In a few cases, the cataracts even cleared up completely. You can find spirulina in most health food stores. Two brands that I’ve come to trust are Earthrise and Kona Coast Hawaiian. I recommend approximately 750 mg daily.
Another superfood to consider is bee pollen. Bee pollen is a rich source of rutin, a bioflavonoid that helps strengthen capillary walls. I recommend 100 mg daily. It can be found at most health food stores.
Now It's Your Turn: What have you done to naturally improve your vision?