Our eyes are complex and intricate organs. They are perfect little orbs of blood vessels, nerve pathways, fine-tuned muscles, cones and rods, vitreous and aqueous humor among many other components. The eye is a truly amazing structure, yet we tend to take them for granted. Health conscious people go to great measures to protect the other organs: to save our hearts we avoid eating fast food; to protect our lungs we don’t smoke; we limit our alcohol intake so that our liver will last until we are old.
The eyes often take a back seat during our quest for a long healthy life, but over time they too will suffer from the effects of aging. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects more than 13 million Americans and is the main cause of blindness in people over 60. It happens when the central part of the retina begins to degrade, stealing away our ability to do simple tasks such as reading and driving. It is a frightening and frustrating disease, but fortunately it is one that we have the ability to prevent in our later lives.
The only confirmed risk factors for AMD are age, genes, and smoking. Scientists have been working to identify things that people can do to reduce their risk for AMD. It’s looking more and more like eating the right kinds of fats is one of them.
Proper and effective eye health begins in the same place as the majority of other health problems – with what is on our plates. Plain and simple, what we eat determines our quality and length of life (with a few exceptions). We all know that beta-carotene in carrots are good for our eyes. More recently sweet potatoes and red wine have been added to the list of foods that also keep our eyes healthy as we age. Now we know that seafood is at the top of the list as an eye-saving superfood.
For the last decade, researchers have been trying to understand more about what we can add to our diets to reduce the risk of or even prevent macular degeneration. There have been numerous studies in which groups of several thousand people were followed for 5-15 years, with the researchers giving them questionnaires about their dietary habits. The studies all found that people were anywhere from 30-45% less likely to develop early-stage AMD if they consumed one or more servings of fish per week. Similar studies have been done in the United States, Canada, Australia, Iceland, and the Netherlands, all with similar results. It’s not a huge percentage, but if you could be at least one third less likely to develop eye problems or even go blind in later life, why not take the initiative to do so?
One study also noted that people who ate fish were less likely to develop late-stage AMD – but this was only seen in participants who stated that they ate three or more servings per week. This means the MORE fish you eat, the MORE your eyes will thank you in the long run!
What is it in fish that makes our eyes healthy? We already know the answer – it’s the long-chain DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids, those amazing chemical structures that also may prevent alzheimers, prostate cancer, AND make us happy. They have a host of other nutrients, vitamins, and minerals as well, but those little omega-3s come out on top of the health ratings. Omega-3s are known to reduce inflammation in the body and it is likely that AMD is, in part, caused by some type of inflammation. Of your seafood options, it’s been found that darker, more oily fish are the most beneficial, as they contain higher concentrations of DHA and EPA. Salmon, trout, tuna, and sardines are a particular favorite, especially with their low mercury levels.
So simply by eating fish at least once a week we can ensure a healthier future for our eyesight? With the numerous yummy seafood options and the countless ways we can prepare our favorite fishy dishes, there is truly no reason not to eat fish and shellfish as part of a regular diet. Combine a salmon fillet with a side of carrots and a glass of red wine and you will have a veritable macular degeneration-fighting feast.
As the years pass by, we all begin to feel the creaks and groans of aging organs, muscles, and bones. There are so many scrumptious ways that we can quiet those ailments and allow ourselves to age while keeping our healthy bodies and minds. Age gracefully with eye-healthy seafood from Pucci Foods and make choices today that your body with benefit from tomorrow.