Mediterranean diet: what foods help protect eye health and strengthen eyesight

According to information released by the World Health Organization, 2,200 million people suffer from some visual impairment and at least 1,000 million of those cases could have been prevented through lifestyle and diet adjustments.

Photo: Image by Laura Montagnani on Pixabay / Pixabay

There are no doubts: food is our best medicine. Undoubtedly, in the last year, the quality of the nutrients with which we base our diet has become a fundamental measure of health and is a key factor in the prevention of chronic diseases. Based on this, it is well known that following the Mediterranean eating style is one of the most recurrent recommendations of science and doctors, it is considered the healthiest and most sustainable diet in the long term. Although every day there are more studies that support its immense medicinal and therapeutic benefits, it is time to talk about a great benefit that many times we go unnoticed: its exceptional benefits to protect eye health and strengthen vision. According to a study of European origin, follow a Mediterranean-inspired diet It is a great ally to improve eye health and even reduces the risk of developing macular degeneration.

While in a way it is nothing new to say that following a plant-based diet is the key to health and longevity. In particular, the researchers at the University of Bordeaux who led this study found lower rates of macular degeneration among people who ate more vegetables, legumes (beans), olive oil, fatty fish and fruit.

The study analyzed data from nearly 5,000 people 55 and older in the Netherlands and found that those who followed a Mediterranean diet were 41% less likely to develop late-stage macular degeneration than those who did not follow the diet. In fact, the study found quite an interesting piece of information: people who ate at least 150 grams (just over 5 ounces) of fruits per day reduced their risk of developing macular degeneration by up to 15% more. It is worth mentioning as part of the study findings, that people who had pre-existing macular degeneration they were more likely to consume fast food, prepared meals, dairy products, and meat; compared to those without macular degeneration.

According to information released by the World Health Organization, 2,200 million people suffer from some visual impairment and at least 1,000 million of those cases could have been prevented through lifestyle and diet adjustments. Therefore, this study positively adds to the growing scientific and medical evidence, which confirms the devastating effects of eating a poor diet, as an important factor in the development of this type of degenerative eye diseases. According to information released by the Mayo Clinic, specific macular degeneration is a common eye disorder in people over 50 years of age and it presents with blurred or reduced central vision due to thinning of the macula. The macula is the part of the retina responsible for clear vision in your direct line of sight. This disease is one of the leading causes of vision loss among older Americans, causing loss of central vision, which is crucial in everyday activities such as driving, reading and writing.

Fortunately, today we know more clearly that chronic diseases such as macular degeneration, dementia, obesity and diabetes, have their fundamental origin in poor eating habits. Just as there are certain nutrients that positively influence the functioning of the most important organs of the human body, there are some specific ones that are simply essential for keep your eyes healthy and in good condition.

What are the best Mediterranean foods for the eyes?

– Vegetables: Although all vegetables are associated with a significant density of nutrients that benefit health, specifically the consumption of those variants that stand out for their content in two carotenoids is recommended: lutein and zeaxanthin. They have antioxidant properties and work to protect the eyes from the harmful ultraviolet rays found in sunlight, they are a great ally to reduce the risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration and dry eyes. Bet on the consumption of vegetables such as: green leafy vegetables, kale, broccoli, spinach, turnip greens, collard greens; and also the yellow and orange variants, which include winter squash, corn, carrots, and bell peppers. Another great source of lutein and zeaxanthin is eggs, specifically egg yolks.

– Extra virgin olive oil: There is no Mediterranean diet without the wonderful olive oil, it is the base fat that is used to fill all kinds of dishes with nutrients, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. Olive oil is liquid gold for the eyes, it helps prevent macular degeneration thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory propertiesIt is recommended to consume two tablespoons of olive oil every day.

– Fruit: I bet you the variants that stand out for their content in vitamins A and C, are infallible allies to protect eye health and enjoy perfect vision both day and night. The best recommendations are citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, lemons and limes, kiwi, pineapple and strawberries are also perfect.

– Sunflower and soybean seeds: According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) consume as little as 30 grams of sunflower or soybean seeds per day, they make up half of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E. It is well known that it is a nutrient that acts as a shield against aging, its consumption is associated with benefits to improve vision and reduce the risk of diseases.

– Blue fish: Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are very important for the eyes, specifically play a role in the proper functioning of the retina. In fact, there are studies in which it has been proven that low levels of omega-3 are related to macular degeneration and dry eye syndrome. Bet on fish such as salmon, bonito, tuna, sardines and trout.

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