Over years, numerous researches have yielded results which reinforce the important role of carotenoids in maintaining eye health. So what are these carotenoids? The attractive bright red and orange hues of various fruits and vegetables are due to a miracle plant pigment – Carotenoid.
These phytonutrients or plant chemicals are known the most for their ability to get easily converted into Vitamin A by the human body. And Vitamin A, as we all know, is crucial for the health of our eyes.
But eating to maintain healthy eyes doesn’t need any extra efforts or drastic alterations in your diet. Because thankfully, there are plenty of food options available easily which are packed with different types of carotenoids like alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene etc. Some of these most commonly available and best food sources are listed below:
1. Carotene-packed Carrots
How can we talk about healthy eyes and not mention carrots? They are one of the most commonly known super foods which rank the highest when it comes to contributing to the well-being of your eyes and eventually prevent build up of any serious eye conditions. Beta-carotene lends carrots their beautiful orange color. Apart from their usage in side-dishes and main meals, you can make some delish desserts from them also.
2. Versatile Sweet Potatoes
Like carrots, sweet potatoes are some of the few foods which are packed with carotenoids. Their natural sweetness and versatility when it comes to cooking, makes them one of the most healthy and delicious foods to maintain healthy eyes. A single baked potato of medium size with skin provides 400% of the adult RDI for Vitamin A. Besides, the skin adds fiber to your diet.
3. Evergreen Veggies
There might not be many takers for this option. But, the fact remains that green vegetables like broccoli and their leafy counterparts such as spinach and kale are good sources of beta-carotene. Whereas Swiss chard, collard greens, bell peppers and Brussels sprouts are great sources of carotenoids – lutein and zeaxanthin. So whip up some salads or on-the-go green smoothies to not just keep you charged up for the day but also keep your eyes healthy!
4. Tangy Tomatoes
Tomatoes are also one of the most versatile foods which add a tangy, refreshing and delicious twist to numerous dishes. They get their rich red color from carotenoids. So, give your favorite pastas and chips & dips platter a boost of carotenoids and cut down on fat as well, by swapping cheese-laden sauces with marinara or other tangy tomato-based sauces, and fresh salsa with heavy cream based dips. Consuming just a single cup of canned tomato juice fulfills 22% of adults RDI of vitamin A. Besides, tomato and other tomato products like sauces and juices are best sources of lycopene also.
5. Rich Food Products from Animals
Even some of the foods derived from animals are good sources of Vitamin A. These include oily fishes, calf’s liver, eggs and milk. However, the only precaution you need to take while enjoying your favorite fish recipe or any of these other foods is the portion size, as most of them are rich in cholesterol and saturated fats also.
6. Fantastic Fruits
Now this is a double treat! You can satisfy your sweet tooth while also doing a world of good to your eyes through a dose of beta-carotene from fruits such as cantaloupe, pink grapefruit and apricots. All of them are rich in carotenoids. Eat them raw, blend them in a power smoothie, the choices are tempting and endless.
Apart from helping you keep your eyes healthy, carotenoids are also known to possess a whole lot of other benefits such as powerful antioxidant functions, anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties. So how about eating for healthy eyes? Stock up your pantry with these super foods and give a free reign to the ‘chef’ in you!