We'll spare you the lecture: you already know not to skip your five-a-day. Fruits and vegetables are an essential source of vitamins, fibre, minerals and phytochemicals that fight inflammation and boost your immune system. Eating healthy isn't just good for your heart and overall wellbeing - it can help prevent a plethora of eye conditions including dry eyes, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and many other sight woes. Having a balanced diet is just as important as keeping up with your regular eye tests.
During the summer, markets are overflowing with seasonal bounty - making it easy and fun to work more fruits and vegetables into your diet. From sizzling BBQs to fresh salads and sunny park picnics: we've put together a quick guide to 8 summer fruits and veggies that are as nutritious as they are delicious.
We all love a slice of watermelon on a sunny day - but did you know it's packed with amazing health benefits? At 92% water, it's incredibly hydrating, while its high levels of potassium, magnesium and amino acids help lower the risk of high blood pressure. Watermelon is also uniquely mood-boosting, as it contains vitamin B6: a crucial nutrient that helps calm nerves, lift your spirits and balance hormones. It works wonders on the eyes too: watermelon is a great source of vitamin A, which helps produce crucial pigments in the retina of the eye, creating a strong defence against age-related macular degeneration. A delicious all-rounder!
Oranges & citrus fruit
Whether you squeeze some in a juice, peel one as a snack or chop them into a fruit salad: an orange a day can help keep eye conditions at bay. Rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that's key for eye health, all citrus fruits can contribute to healthy blood vessels in your eyes. This helps you fight off cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other eye conditions. In fact, orange-coloured fruits and vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, mangos and apricots, are high in beta-carotene - a form of vitamin A that helps strengthen your eyes' ability to adjust to darkness.
These sweet and tangy superfoods do a whole lot of good when it comes to eye health. Strawberries are rich in vitamin C, which helps relax and soothe any swelling around your eyes and keep their connective tissue healthy. They are packed with antioxidants, fibre and other phytochemicals that help prevent dry eyes and age-related diseases, such as glaucoma. Then, you've got blueberries: full of anti-inflammatory, collagen-stabilizing properties, not only do they prevent blockages in retinal arteries, but they also lower high blood pressure. These amazing nutritional values are also seen in cranberries, blackberries, mulberries etc.
Tomatoes are a rich source of a few powerful antioxidants: lycopene, lutein, and beta-carotene, if you want to show off your nutrition lingo. These nutrients have been shown to protect the eyes against light-induced damage, by helping them filter blue light rays that would otherwise damage other tissues in your eyes. Tomatoes contain copper, a much-needed mineral for the eyes, as it works to keep their pigmentation and melanin vibrant for longer, keeping your eyes bright and beautiful as you grow older. Research has even suggested that because of copper's ability to improve connectivity between eye tissues, it may be a contender in treating myopia naturally.
Bell peppers are a total nutritional powerhouse that could keep you safe from various age-related eye conditions. Out of all the vegetables, peppers give you the most vitamin C per calorie, lowering your risk of cataracts and improving your night vision. They can help fight off symptoms of eye infections, such as conjunctivitis, as they protect and hydrate your eye's retina. Just a cup of raw peppers provides 100% of the recommended daily value of vitamins A and C, and their high fibre content means they fill you up too.
Kale, along with spinach and other leafy greens, contains two of the most essential antioxidants for eye health: zeaxanthin and lutein, also found in eggs and fish. These plant-based forms of vitamin A help prevent serious eye conditions such as glaucoma, dry eyes and cataracts. Macula, the part of your eye that protects it from damaging light, stores them and uses them to filter screen glare from computers, mobile phones and other forms of blue light. While a bowl of kale won't exactly stop digital eye strain in its tracks, it will definitely give your eyes key tools to fight it.
This Mediterranean superstar is full of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. High in antioxidants, aubergines have been known to help lower cholesterol, improve brain function, memory and heart health. They are available all year round, but their typical season is between July and September, so you might notice them looking extra happy during the summer. Aubergines are high in fibre, which slows the rate of digestion and absorption of glucose, helping you maintain blood sugar levels healthy and avoiding the effects of diabetic retinopathy.
Nuts & seeds
You've heard all about the eye health benefits of fish - but did you know that nuts and seeds are also high in omega-3 fatty acids? Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, pecans and cashews all have a unique combination of vitamins C and E and zinc: an essential trio for a healthy retina. Same goes for flax, chia and pumpkin seeds, too. Whether you have them as a snack between meals, in a salad, or grind them into pesto: 20g of nuts and seeds a day can improve your eyesight, fight age-related eye conditions and boost your immune system.