Eating Well to Protect Your Eyes!
You often hear about eating a healthy diet to maintain your weight and prevent chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. But did you realize eating well can keep you eyes healthy and prevent macular degeneration (which is the leading cause of blindness in older adults)? In fact, overall good nutrition is crucial for maintaining healthy eyes.
Here’s another good reason to eat your 5-9 daily servings of fruits and vegetables. A high intake of two powerful antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, have been shown to reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. You can find these nutrients in leafy greens like spinach, kale, collard greens, and turnip greens as well as in broccoli, corn, and pumpkin.
Another good source of lutein is egg yolks. Although the amount of lutein is lower than you find in leafy greens, it appears to be more readily absorbed into the bloodstream. Because of the fear of cholesterol many people avoid eating eggs, but a recent study demonstrated that eating one egg a day did not raise the level of total cholesterol, LDL, or triglycerides of the participants. So go ahead and start enjoying eggs again!
Vitamin C helps prevent damage to the eye from ultraviolet rays. Most of you know that oranges and orange juice are excellent sources of vitamin C. But other great sources include grapefruit and its juice, kiwi, red peppers (both sweet and hot), strawberries, lemons, papaya, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, also plays a role in eye health. We get vitamin E from peanut butter, wheat germ, almonds, sunflower seeds, spinach, and those leafy greens I mentioned above.
New research has shown that not only are omega-3 fatty acids good for heart health, but people who eat 2-3 servings of fish per week and 1-2 servings of nuts have a lower risk of developing macular degeneration.
Lastly, maintaining a healthy weight is also important for maintaining healthy eyes….by preventing obesity and diabetes you will be more likely to avoid eye conditions that can occur as a result. Diabetics are at a much greater risk of developing cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic-related blindness.
So besides donning those fashionable sunglasses which help block the harmful UVA/UVB rays, eat well to keep those eyes healthy for a lifetime!
If you would like help with making dietary changes to keep you healthy and reduce your risk for chronic diseases, please click here.
Helpful Hint: How to Make the Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil then cover pan and remove from heat. Let steep for 15 minutes. Drain water and cover with cold water to stop the cooking process. You will have perfectly cooked eggs using this method! To store in the refrigerator, peel and place in a covered container for up to a week.
Come on…get a little adventurous! Try these delicious recipes for greens from Ellie Krieger’s book The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life.
Sesame Stir-Fried Chinese Greens
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tsp canola oil
2 lbs boy choy or napa cabbage, cut crosswise into 1” strips
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Toast the sesame seeds in a small dry skillet over medium high heat until golden, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently (stay close, these can burn quickly). Set aside.
In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil over high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the greens and stir fry until they begin to soften, 1-2 minutes. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil and cook until just done, 1-2 minutes longer. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately. Serves 6
Per serving: 61 calories, 4 g fat, 3 g protein, 4 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 276 mg sodium
Grilled Romaine Hearts
2 hearts of romaine lettuce
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Preheat your grill. Cut the romaine hearts in half lengthwise, leaving the end intact so each half holds together. Cut off the tops if they’re at all bruised. Brush the lettuce with the oil. Grill over medium heat until they char and wilt slightly, about 6 minutes, turning a few times. Season with salt and pepper and eat immediately. Serves 4
Per serving: 85 calories, 7 g fat, 1 g protein, 4 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 7 mg sodium
Note: I also love to use this grilling method with radicchio lettuce.