From bones to brains, good nutrition helps grow healthy bodies—including our eyes! Learn about these kid-friendly foods that may help protect vision and promote eye health.
Lovely Leafy Greens
There’s no substitute for sunglasses, but lutein and zeaxanthin, which are related to vitamin A and beta-carotene, may also help protect eye tissues from sunlight damage. Good sources of these nutrients include dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, turnip greens and spinach, as well as broccoli, kiwi, yellow squash, oranges, and papaya. Because the body needs fat to absorb lutein and zeaxanthin, serve the kiddos these foods with a drizzle of olive oil, slices of avocado or a chopped hard-boiled egg (which also contains lutein and zeaxanthin in the yolk).
Our bodies convert beta-carotene (which gives some root vegetables and squashes an orange color) into vitamin A, a nutrient that is important for vision, especially the ability to see in the dark. Enjoy sweet potatoes, carrots and butternut squash, plus dark green foods including spinach and collard greens. Milk and eggs are also sources of vitamin A. Similar to lutein and zeaxanthin, beta-carotene and vitamin A are absorbed best when eaten with a little healthy fat.
Splendid Vitamin C Foods
Fresh, juicy strawberries are not only delicious favorites among children—they contain plenty of vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps support eye health. Skewer strawberry pieces with more of your child’s favorite vitamin-C rich foods such cantaloupe chunks and orange slices, or veggie kabobs with broccoli and bell peppers. (Make sure to keep the pieces small to prevent choking.)
Healthy Fats: Include sources of Omega-3s
In addition to helping bodies absorb lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene and vitamin A, some healthy fats also contain omega-3s. Salmon and other fatty fish are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which may be beneficial for eye health. A variety of fish that are lower in mercury are recommended for young children. For a list of “Best Choices” and appropriate servings, which will depend on a child’s age, refer to “Advice about Eating Fish” from the U.S Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. Other foods that include this type of healthy fat are walnuts (which also contain eye-healthy vitamin E), flax and chia seeds.