Foods For Macular Degeneration Prevention

Macular degeneration is an eye condition that can lead to significant loss of vision and even blindness. It is the leading cause of vision loss and aging is the biggest risk factor, particularly for people 65 and older. For this reason, this eye condition is usually referred to as “AMD” (age-related macular degeneration).

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AMD is a condition where there is deterioration of the macula of the eye – which is the central portion of the eye’s retina. The retina is the inside back layer of the eye that records images we see, which are sent to the brain from the eye via the optic nerve.

While there is no cure for AMD, some research has shown that eating certain nutrients are beneficial for overall eye health, including preventing and slowing down AMD. Nutrients such as vitamins C and E, carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin, β-carotene), zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA], docosahexaenoic acid [DHA]) have been thought to be important for vision health due to their antioxidant functions and anti-inflammatory properties. Also, eating foods that contain these nutrients have been documented to reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Listed below are the best foods to eat to help prevent AMD.

Food

Vegetables

Vegetables are perhaps the most important food group for eye health. This is particularly true for green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and kale. The goal is to consume good amounts of vitamin C, as well as β-Carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. At the minimum, each meal should contain one healthy serving of a vegetable. Ideally, you should base your meals around your vegetables and consider the grains, starches, and protein sources as the side dish, by making half of your plate vegetables at most meals.

Fish

Fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, flounder and sole are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids in addition to being a good source of healthy protein. DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid, is especially important for the retina, as well as the brain and other important parts of the body. As a matter of fact, they are important components of the membranes that surround each cell in your body. Omega-3 fatty acids are not produced in the body, but are fats that need to be consumed through your food.

Nuts and Seeds

This food group is often considered just as a snack item or even totally overlooked by many people. However, studies have shown that eating nuts and seeds regularly such as almonds, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts, pecans; can help improve diet quality due to their amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, as well as protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds with antioxidant potential. In addition to eating them plain, you can also add them to your other foods, like salads, cereals and breads.

Fats

Long and wrongly considered a villain in our diets, fats are an important part of a healthy diet. This is especially true for extra virgin olive oil, which is rich in monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats are linked to reduced LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) while raising HDL cholesterol (the good kind). Extra virgin olive oil also contains high amounts of phenolic compounds, which are strong antioxidants and free radical scavengers. While most people cook with this, the nutritional benefit is highest when not heated – so try to consume olive oil as a salad dressing or in similar uses.

Whole Grains

This food group consists of non-refined (not the white kind) grains such as whole grain cereal, breads, oats, bulgur, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and wild rice. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, including B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, and fiber. Some good ways to eat these whole grains is by having whole grain oatmeal in the morning, adding some cooked quinoa to your salads, and serving some tabbouleh for dinner (which is made from bulgur).

Legumes

Legumes such as chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, peas, and pinto beans are an important and valuable source of vegetarian protein. They also contain lots of dietary fiber and zinc. These are excellent when mixed with whole grain dishes, salads and soups. A good way to eat them with vegetables and whole grain bread is as hummus.

Foods to Avoid

– Processed snacks: Chips, pretzels, cookies, and crackers

– Refined carbohydrates: Bagels, white pasta, white bread, and white rice

– Fried foods: Especially deep fried like french fries and fried chicken

– Sweets and treats: Such as donuts, muffins, pancakes, syrups, sugar and regular soda

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