See the Benefits: How Dates Can Improve Your Eye Health
- Eye health is important for supporting good vision throughout life.
- A healthy, balanced diet plays a vital role in achieving optimal eye health.
- Dates are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that can support eye health.
You may think that eyesight and health are just something you are born with. While genetics play a role, a balanced, nutrient-dense diet can support healthy vision. Many vitamins, including Vitamin A and E, are essential for healthy eyes. Additional nutrients and antioxidants are also important and may help prevent certain conditions like glaucoma, dry eyes, cataracts, poor night vision, and more. Having a balanced diet with a variety of proteins, dairy, fruits, and vegetables are one of the best things you can do to support your health – eye health and beyond!
Many different food groups support eye health based on the nutrients they contain. Among these include fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and legumes.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are generally very nutrient-dense. For example, green leafy vegetables, like kale, contain important nutrients, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These nutrients are called carotenoids and may help prevent serious conditions, like age-related macular degeneration (AMD). A 100 gram serving of kale, or about 1.5 cups, provides more than the daily recommended amount.
Another vitamin that has been shown to be beneficial for eye health is vitamin A. There are many different forms of Vitamin A. Β-carotene is a precursor for vitamin A and is found in orange fruits and vegetables, like carrots. Studies have also shown that a high intake of this nutrient is associated with decreased risk for AMD. While there isn’t a recommended daily allowance (RDA) for β-carotene, the amount of β-carotene given in this study was 17 mg (28,640 IU vitamin A). For reference, ½ cup of sweet potatoes contains about 15.5mg.
Eating dates could help you meet your dietary needs for certain nutrients that can benefit eye health. For example, a serving of 5 dates provides about 6.7% of an adult female’s daily zinc needs. Zinc is an essential mineral for maintaining the health of our retinas.
Incorporating healthy fats into your diet may also benefit eye health. Omega 3 fatty acids, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are most important. Omega 3’s have long been known to aid in heart health by helping to prevent atherosclerosis or hardening of arteries from plaque build-up. Similar to how these fats help our heart, they also may help the arteries in our eyes the same way. It is thought that, through this mechanism, omega 3’s would reduce one’s risk for AMD. More research is needed to confirm these ideas.
Consuming fats can also help aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, including Vitamin E. While there are many forms of Vitamin E, α-Tocopherol is the one that is actively maintained within our bodies. Since Vitamin E has antioxidant activity, it may help protect our eyes against free radicals. Foods rich in Vitamin E include plant oils (like soybean oil) and nuts (like peanuts and almonds).
Aside from dietary changes, there are many other practices that can be followed to improve eye health. These include:
- Visiting your eye doctor yearly
- Wear sunglasses and protective eyewear
- Quit smoking
- Stay active and exercise regularly
Eye health and preserving eyesight is an important thing for many. Our diets can play an important role in this. Vitamin A, Vitamin E, zinc, omega 3’s, lutein, and zeaxanthin all play an important role in preventing or slowing vision deterioration. Eating a variety of foods from different food groups can help us get all the vitamins and minerals we need.
Maintaining a healthy diet can help to maintain eye health. This includes:
- Incorporating fruits and vegetables, rich in nutrients like Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and zinc
- Including foods that contain healthy fats with omega-3’s and fat-soluble vitamins, like nuts, salmon, and certain plant seeds
- Retina: The retina is a layer of tissue in the back of your eye that senses light and sends images to your brain.
- Antioxidant: Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against free radicals.
- Free radical: A free radical can be defined as any molecular species capable of independent existence that contains an unpaired electron in an atomic orbital.