Let’s Look at Whole Grains

They can protect your eyes against a whole host of vision conditions

Incorporating whole grains into your diet can contribute to several lifestyle improvements. Whole grains can benefit your eyes by protecting them from vision-impairing conditions and reducing the risk of vision loss later in life.

Did you know? Whole grains reduce the likelihood of blood sugar spikes that can damage the retina over time.

Source: Stewart, Helen. “Improve Eye Health 3 Easy Ways.” Natural Medicine @ Suite101.com, suite101.com/article/improve-eye-health-3-easy-ways-a410887. April 14, 2012.

Cataracts and macular degeneration

Whole grains contain vitamin E, zinc and niacin, which can all improve eye health by reducing the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss among older people.2,3

Replacing refined carbohydrates and high glycemic index foods with whole grains can slow the progression of AMD by as much as 8 percent.4 Instead of eating high glycemic carbohydrates, like white bread and pasta, choose less refined carbohydrates such as quinoa, brown rice, oats, and whole-wheat breads and pastas.5

Overall eye health

Whole grains reduce the likelihood of blood sugar spikes that can damage the retina over time.6 Corn, which is also gluten-free, is high in antioxidants and lutein, an enzyme necessary for sustained eye health.7 The zinc in whole grains protects eye tissue from light and inflammation.8 Eating whole grains is a good nutritional practice for both overall health and eye health.

Whole grains

According to the Whole Grains Council, “Whole grains, or foods made from them, contain all the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed.”9

They include:

  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn, including whole cornmeal and popcorn
  • Millet
  • Oats, including oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Rice, both brown rice and colored rice
  • Rye
  • Sorghum (also called milo)
  • Teff
  • Triticale
  • Wheat, including varieties such as spelt, emmer, farro, einkorn, Kamut®, durum and forms such as bulgur, cracked wheat and wheat berries
  • Wild rice

  1. Bauer, Joy. “Health Benefits of Whole Grains.” www.joybauer.com/food-articles/whole-grains.aspx. Accessed September 5, 2012.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Delisi, Scott. “Enjoy Whole Grains for Better Vision and Oral Health.” Ameritas Insight. September 6, 2011.
  4. Chiu CJ, Milton RC, Klein R, Gensler G, Tayor A. “Dietary carbohydrate and the progression of age-related macular degeneration: a prospective study from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Oct;86(4):1210-8.
  5. Oz, Mehmet C., MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD. “7 Foods for Healthy Eyes.” RealAge.com. Accessed September 5, 2012.
  6. Stewart, Helen. “Improve Eye Health 3 Easy Ways.” Natural Medicine @ Suite101.com. April 14, 2012.
  7. Verhoff, Elaina. “How to Choose the Healthiest Whole Grains.” SheKnows.com. www.sheknows.com/healthand-wellness/articles/850839/how-to-choose-thehealthiest-whole-grains. January 1, 2012.
  8. University of California Berkeley, “Eye Supplements (Ocuvite).” Wellness Letter. August 2008.
  9. Whole Grains Council www.wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101. Accessed September 5, 2012.