Did you know that your dietary choices have an impact on your eye health and vision? When you choose appetizing food that at the same time provides you with all the nutrients that are essential for preserving your vision, you are taking a major step towards minimizing the risk of eye disease and age-related vision changes.
For an eye-healthy diet, choose foods rich in antioxidants like Vitamin C and E, zinc and copper, lutein, zeaxanthin and Omega 3 fatty acids. These include green leafy vegetables, orange peppers, eggs and fish.
Vitamin A is found in colorful fruits and vegetables such as apricots, papaya, carrots, and tomatoes as well as in fortified milk, beef, chicken, cod liver oil and eggs. This vitamin is vital for night vision and helps prevent dry eye syndrome, eye infections, cataracts and macular degeneration.
Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits such as grapefruit, oranges and strawberries as well as in red and green bell peppers, broccoli and kale. This vitamin helps support blood vessels in the eye and reduces the risk of cataracts.
Vitamin E is found in nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts and peanut butter as well as spinach, avocados, olive oil and whole grains, and is thought to reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. It is also a powerful anti-oxidant and protects your eyes from free-radical damage.
It is also worthwhile incorporating foods containing lutein and zeaxanthin, two powerful antioxidants that may help protect against retinal damage and the onset of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin can be found in green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens and broccoli.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for eye health as well as general health. Essential fatty acids are those your body cannot manufacture, and must be ingested. They provide anti-inflammatory protection to the delicate blood vessels of your eyes, and can help with age-related macular degeneration as well as dry eyes. Essential fatty acids are best obtained through two servings/week of deep ocean, cold water oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and char fish. Krill oil is a super-potent source of essential fatty acids (if you're not allergic to shellfish).
If you have trouble keeping up with fish intake or are concerned about mercury or PCBs, a good solution is to take a daily omega 3 supplement with at least a total of 1000 mg. of DHA and EPA.
Research also suggests that obtaining a combination of eye health nutrients from a variety of food sources provides the best results for slowing the progression of eye diseases. So do your eyes a favor and ensure that your diet includes a rich assortment of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy oils.
Here is a recipe courtesy of Dr. Laurie Capogna and Dr. Barbara Pelletier, optometrists who specialize in nutrition and eye health. As you can see this recipe is filled with important nutrients that help save your sight.
Chicken Almond Wraps
These tasty wraps can be enjoyed as a nutritious lunch or a light snack. They are filled with nutrients that help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts, including lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C and zinc.
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and pulled into bite sized pieces
- 1 tbsp canola or olive oil
- 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
- 1 orange pepper, chopped
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1 large orange, peeled with a knife, quartered and sliced
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- Romaine lettuce leaves or kale leaves, washed and dried completely
- Optional zeaxanthin boost: garnish with goji berries.
- 4 tablespoons natural almond butter (or natural peanut butter)
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 4 teaspoons soy sauce
- 3 teaspoons honey
- Dash of hot sauce
- Hot water
- Mix poultry, peas, pepper, green onion, orange, almonds and cilantro in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, combine almond butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey and hot sauce.
- Add 2 tablespoons of hot water and stir well. If sauce is too thick, add another tablespoon of hot water. Continue until the sauce has the consistency of a thick salad dressing.
- Use 2 tablespoons of the sauce as dressing for the poultry mix. Toss gently to combine.
- Separate remaining dipping sauce into an individual bowl for each person.
- Spoon chicken mixture into a lettuce or kale leaf and fold.
- Enjoy with the dipping sauce.
Tip: The chicken mixture can be refrigerated for up to two days. Serve cold or warm.