Super-ingredients for the retina:
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
These are major components of retinal membranes, specifically the photoreceptor cells. They also protect these photoreceptors by preventing programmed cell death. One specific Omega 3 called DHA helps to facilitate absorption of lutein into the retina. Another Omega 3 called EPA plays an important role in eye health by controlling inflammatory responses.
Foods high in Omega 3’s in descending order include: Fresh salmon, fresh tuna, fresh mackerel, tinned anchovies, tinned sardines, swordfish, sea bass. Equivalent quantities of cod, lobster and trout contain only very small levels of omega 3s.
Lutein and Zeoxanthin
These are known as pigments, and their protective role in the eye is to absorb UV and blue light wavelengths which are known to be involved in the generation of free radicals. Free radicals are damaging to the photoreceptors of the eye. Lutein and zeoxanthin are only available from our diet.
Foods high in lutein and zeoxanthin in descending order include: Kale, spinach, celery, broccoli, lettuce, peas, sprouts and sweetcorn. Of these, kale contains almost double the concentration of lutein as the next best vegetable. 50 grams of kale contains the Macula Society’s RDA allowance of lutein.
Found in red wine and nuts, this has antioxidant properties, as well as having an anti-inflammatory effect.
Vitamins C and E
Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant vitamin which protects the retina from photo-oxidation and has a synergistic action with vitamin E.