Unfortunately, as of yet, there is no cure for this disease, and many people don’t even realize they have AMD until their vision is very blurry, at which point it is difficult to treat. For this reason, it is of supreme importance to eat foods that can improve macular mass and overall eye health to help prevent it or keep it from getting worse, along with periodic visits to an ophthalmologist who can scan for early signs of AMD.
If you wish to reduce your risk of AMD or prevent further progression, the following foods are essential to add to your weekly shopping list.
According to a study published in the Antioxidant journal back in October 2020, it has been confirmed that two of the most powerful carotenoids — lutein and zeaxanthin — work together with meso-zeaxanthin (the macular xanthophylls, or oxygen-containing carotenoid pigments produced in the eye itself) to filter light before it can cause extensive damage to the eye’s photoreceptors. Both lutein and zeaxanthin are plentiful in broccoli, brussels sprouts, collards, cooked kale, mustard greens and spinach.
Another report published in November 2017 by the “European Journal of Nutrition” states that most Americans only consume an average of 2 to 3 mg of lutein and zeaxanthin per day. This is way below the 6 mg to 30 mg recommended daily intake, according to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation. So the more leafy greens you consume per day, the better.
Believe it or not, the eyes consist of a greater concentration of vitamin C than any other part of the body, naturally leading many doctors to recommend a daily intake of 500 milligrams (mg) of C for people with AMD. That amount surpasses the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 90 mg a day for men and 75 mg a day for women.
When it comes to fruit, Vitamin C is abundant in berries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, guava, lemons and limes. For instance, just one medium-sized cantaloupe packs a real punch, delivering around 200 mg of vitamin C, which is almost half the RDA. Oranges and kiwis also have a lot of C, but they have high glycemic indexes, so it’s best to avoid them. This is because too much blood sugar can lead to AMD or make it worse.
You may not have heard of this fun health fact before, but the sweet yet tart liquid around the pomegranate’s tiny seeds (arils) actually stimulates vasodilation within the body, which is the expansion of blood vessels. With an unrivaled mix of polyphenols, vitamin C, and minerals such as vitamin K, pomegranate can reduce high blood pressure and increase blood flow throughout the body, including within the eye. As a matter of fact, this wonder fruit contains 3 times the antioxidant activity of green tea or red wine.
In addition, a report published in “Advanced Biomedical Research” emphasizes pomegranate’s ability to reduce general inflammation, bad LDL cholesterol, oxidative stress, and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
An article published in April 2022 by the “Current Opinion in Pharmacology” underlined the long standing wisdom among vision professionals: Oily fish rich with omega 3’s and 6’s have a protective and healing effect on the macula. They recommend eating fish instead of meat at least three times per week.
Some fish and seafood varieties target and heal the damage caused by neovascularization, the rapid proliferation of fragile blood vessels in the eye. Some of the best omega – rich fish include anchovies, mackerel, salmon, sardines, swordfish, tuna, shellfish, and shrimp.
As an alternative to fish and seafood, most nuts and seeds offer a massive dose of omega oils as well. For example, a review published in July 2018 by “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” credited walnuts in particular for helping improve overall blood lipid levels, which reduces cardiovascular disease risk.
Seeds — especially ground chia, flax, and hemp — are bursting with healthy oils. It may surprise you, but the beneficial fat content of chia exceeds that of salmon. A whole protein, chia naturally contains all nine of the essential amino acids our bodies require. ,p>
Extra-virgin olive oil is another AMD – fighting superfood. A study published in “PLoS One” states that senior aged participants who regularly consumed olive oil significantly reduced their risk of advancing to vision-threatening late AMD.