The old maxim, “Eat your carrots—they’re good for your eyes” had some validity. Nutrients in carrots can help, but dark leafy green vegetables contain higher levels of nutrients that might contribute to slowing the progression of your AMD. They’re not the only foods that may help you protect your vision—and there are other foods you should avoid or eat in moderation if you want to be good to your eyes.
What’s a Good Macular Degeneration Diet?
The AMD diet includes foods that contain healthy amounts of a number of specific vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, some fish, and nuts and seeds—a Mediterranean-style diet fits the bill fairly well. Just as important, the AMD diet avoids other foods that might contribute to chronic conditions associated with macular degeneration or that directly affect the eyes.
Vitamins A, C, and E. Antioxidants help your body fight cellular damage. For vitamin A, eat plenty of carotenoids, which include the “eye vitamins” lutein and zeaxanthin. They’re found in red-orange pigmented fruits and vegetables and dark leafy greens. Citrus delivers hefty doses of vitamin C. And nuts and seeds and their oils are rich in vitamin E.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Three important Omega-3s are EPA and DHA, which are mainly found in fatty fish, and ALA, which is found in nuts and seeds. Omega-3s help your body fight inflammation, which researchers believe may play a role in AMD. These fatty acids can also help lower bad-cholesterol levels, which are linked with AMD.
Zinc and copper
These trace minerals contribute to eye health directly and indirectly. For example, zinc helps your body absorb the antioxidant vitamin A and also regulates cellular function. Meats, shellfish and legumes such as chickpeas are high in zinc. For copper, eat plenty of dark leafy greens—again!—as well as nuts and seeds, legumes and eggs.
Foods to avoid with macular degeneration
No surprise: The same foods that clog the blood vessels of your heart are also a danger to the tiny blood vessels of your eyes. To protect your vision, avoid fast foods and go easy on the following, especially if you have high cholesterol:
Processed foods that contain trans fats
Tropical oils, like palm oil (use vitamin E–rich safflower and corn oil instead)
Lard and vegetable shortening, and margarine
High-fat dairy foods (eggs in moderation are a good source of eye-healthy nutrients)
Fatty beef, pork and lamb
Give sweets and sugary drinks the boot, too, because they spark inflammation, which generates eye-damaging free radicals. Sugary foods and fatty ones are high in calories and a major contributor to obesity, which is linked to AMD.
Your AMD Diet Shopping List
This shopping list includes the top sources of the nutrients that make up the AMD diet along with foods that contain several of the nutrients you should be eating. Pick the foods you like best, and mix it up from week to week.
Talk to your doctor before making changes to your diet.
To print a copy of your shopping list, click here.