Although vision commonly gets worse with age, adding eye-friendly foods
to your diet can help prolong optimal eyesight. When you look for the
foods that protect your eyes, there’s more to consider than carrots.
The rabbit’s favorite snack is packed with beta-carotene, which
your body converts into vitamin A. But you’ll do even better if
you eat like an “ACE” and boost your intake of foods that
contain vitamins A, C, and E.
When you eat more ACE vitamins, you help protect against two of the leading
causes of visual impairment among aging Americans: 1) age-related macular
degeneration (AMD) and 2) cataracts. The leading cause of severe vision
loss in adults over 50, AMD results from changes to the macula, a small
part of the retina on the back layer of your eye. Cataracts develop when
proteins in the eyes are damaged, causing the lenses to become translucent
Vitamins A and C have been found to reduce the risk of AMD and cataracts,
while vitamin E protects your eyes from free radicals, the unstable molecules
which damage healthy cells. Eye-healthy diets should also include zinc,
which is important in protecting the retina, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin help prevent chronic eye diseases.
Finding recipe ideas for sustaining good eye health doesn’t have
to be hard. Next time you are looking for ideas to help boost your eye
health, try these simple dishes that are as great for your eyes as they
are for your whole body:
Oatmeal with berries.
Oatmeal is well-known for its low-glycemic-index carbohydrates, and low-glycemic-index
foods are linked to protection against early AMD. Top your oatmeal with
a handful of blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries, and you’ve
got a breakfast bursting with vitamin C and antioxidants to sustain your
overall eye wellness.
Tuna and avocado sandwich. Tuna fish promotes good eyesight with plentiful omega-3 fatty acids. Add
slices of creamy avocado for a tasty helping of lutein and zeaxanthin.
Serve on 100 percent whole wheat bread for the perfect topper.
Hummus. Hummus is a hearty dip made from pureed chickpeas, tahini (a blend of
ground sunflower seeds), and olive oil. The combination provides you with
vitamin E and zinc for your eyes, dietary fiber for your digestive tract,
and heart-healthy fats. Squeeze a lemon over the hummus to add zip and
vitamin C. Serve hummus with pieces of whole-grain pita bread, raw veggie
sticks, or a basket of kale chips for a healthy delicious pairing.
Pasta and three-bean salad. Whole grain pasta is a great source of vitamin E, zinc, and niacin. Combine
100 percent whole wheat rotini, penne, or farfalle with a tangy vinaigrette
of olive oil, flaxseed oil, or sunflower oil, which provide healthful
omega-3 fatty acids. You can substitute brown rice or quinoa for the pasta
if you prefer. Mix in shredded carrots and toss with kidney beans, lentils,
and black-eyed peas for protein, fiber, and zinc. Sprinkle with chia seeds
for an extra helping of omega 3s and antioxidants.
Grilled beef and spinach wrap. Layer a flatbread with 2oz.-4oz. of lean, grilled beef; or, if you prefer,
sliced turkey. The zinc in meat and poultry helps your body absorb vitamin
A. Stuff your creation with fresh spinach which, besides being rich in
iron, is chock full of vitamin C, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Top it all off with slices of red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, which
are loaded with vitamins A and C, and carotenoids, eye-friendly antioxidants
which also give these vegetables their bright color.
Try these simple dishes or invent your own, and you’ll soon be looking
good -- in more ways than one.