Hello! This is Michelle, Westminster Canterbury-Lynchburg’s registered dietitian, with this month’s Nutrition Minute because we want to MAKE EVERY MINUTE COUNT.
Foods for Eye Health
Do your eyes have all the nutrients they need to help prevent cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma and other sight woes? Read on to learn about some of the top foods to promote eye health. But don't count on popping a pill to reduce your risk! To get these nutrients — your best sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are from whole foods, since it may be a combination of nutrients within that provide these benefits.
Kale: See the Light
This leafy green is a source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are related to vitamin A and beta-carotene, and may help protect eye tissues from sunlight damage and reduce the risk of eye changes related to aging. Other good sources of these nutrients include dark green leafy vegetables such as collard greens, turnip greens and spinach, broccoli, peas, kiwi, red grapes, yellow squash, oranges, corn, papaya and pistachios. Your body needs fat to absorb lutein and zeaxanthin, so be sure to eat them with a bit of unsaturated fat such as a drizzle of olive oil or a few slices of avocado. And kale also contains vitamin C and beta-carotene, other eye-friendly nutrients.
Sweet Potatoes: The Color of Health
Beta-carotene gives these tubers their orange color. Your body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, a nutrient that helps prevent dry eyes and night blindness. Sweet potatoes not your favorite? For beta-carotene, try other deep orange foods, such as carrots and butternut squash, plus dark green foods including spinach and collard greens. Liver, milk and eggs are also sources of vitamin A.
And, similar to lutein and zeaxanthin, beta-carotene and vitamin A are absorbed best when eaten with a little healthy fat such as olive oil.
Strawberries: Help You "C" Better
Fresh, juicy strawberries are a good thing for your eyes, and contain plenty of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that may help lower your risk of cataracts. Also, be sure to load up your plate with other vitamin C-rich foods including bell peppers, broccoli, citrus (such as orange and grapefruit) and cantaloupe.
Healthy Fats: Include sources of Omega-3s
Besides helping with the absorption of certain nutrients, some healthy fats also contain omega-3s. Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may be beneficial for eye health. Include salmon or other types of fatty fish two to three times per week. Other foods that include this type of healthy fat are walnuts (which also contain eye-healthy vitamin E), flax and chia seeds.