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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Eating for Good Eye Sight

Does what you eat affect your vision?  Do the foods you eat or don’t eat affect your eye sight?  Recently I was at a restaurant and a couple sat down in the table next to us.  The man asked the server for a flashlight as he was not able to read the menu in the dim light.  It was a little dim in the restaurant but most people would be able to read the menu.  I didn’t know what his vision problem was, but one thing came to mind, vitamin A deficiency.  One of the first systems of vitamin A deficiency is night blindness.  This results in poor vision at night or in dim light.  Perhaps this gentleman had trouble reading the menu in the dim light because he was deficient in vitamin A.  What are the vitamins and nutrients that promote good vision?  The March 2016 issue of Environmental Nutrition has an article, “Eat to See Clearly”. 
  1. Choose a Rainbow of Colors:  – Eat the colors of the rainbow for healthy eyes.  A vitamin A precursor is carotenoids found in dark green and dark orange fruits and vegetables.  Carotenoids include lutein and zeaxanthin.  These are antioxidants that help protect our eyes from damaging rays of sunlight and may protect us from getting cataracts. 
  2. Prepare your veggies for eye health – most people think raw vegetables are the healthiest.  But chopping them up and cooking in some oil actually helps with absorption of vitamin A and the carotenoids.  I always tell my students if you have a salad you don’t want fat-free dressing but some fat in the dressing helps you absorb the nutrients in the dark greens and veggies in the salad.  
  3. What Vegetables and Fruit are healthy for your eyes?
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin – darker the green the better – dark leafy greens such as: spinach, kale, collards, turnip greens, and mustard greens.  Also, peas, Brussel sprouts, summer and winter squash.
  • Carotene – pumpkin, carrots, winter squash, sweet potato, dark green leafy vegetables, and cantaloupe.         
 4. Are there supplements that are good for your eyesight?  Eating carotenoid rich foods is the best for your eyes.  For those with poor diets, supplements may help. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study recommends:              

Nutrients for Eye Health
Amount
Vitamin C
500 mg.
Vitamin E
400 IU
Lutein
10 mg
Zeaxanthin
2 mg
Zinc (zinc oxide)
25 mg
Copper (cupric oxide)
2 mg
  
For eye health eat the colors of the rainbow, enjoy the sweet potato at dinner and add some low fat salad dressing or vinegar and oil to the salad.  Sauté some fresh vegetables in olive oil so you can absorb all those eye healthy carotenoids in your food.

Sources:  Eat to See Clearly, Image source:  Fruit and vegetables


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