Grab your cape…and your fork. We’re ready to talk about foods with super-boosted health impacts for your vision!
Cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are the leading causes of visual impairment and acquired blindness in the U.S. More than 25 million adults over 40 are impacted by one, or both, of these impairments. But, there is some good news!
Believe it or not, there are foods you can easily include in your regular diet that can help reduce your risk of getting these eye diseases. Most people associate carrots with good eye health. “Eat your carrots. They’ll help you see in the dark!” may sound familiar to you. However carrots aren’t even the best option out there.
Which Foods Top the List for Eye Health?
Spinach and kale are the superfoods we’re talking about today! They come packed with largest amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids and antioxidants with important health benefits in many parts of the body, including your eyes. In particular, those antioxidants lower the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. The American Optometric Association reports, “…antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin likely play a role in preventing cataracts. In fact, a recent study demonstrated that higher dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin and vitamin E was associated with a significantly decreased risk of cataract formation.”
How Much Should You Eat to Maximize the Benefits to Your Eyes?
According to The Scripps Research Institute, studies have shown that those who ate spinach three times per week had a 43 percent lower risk of developing macular degeneration. The body cannot make lutein, so you must get it from food or supplements. You can also give your body a boost with these antioxidants through supplements, but if possible, you don’t want to only count on popping a pill to get these nutrients. Your best sources of vitamins and antioxidants are from whole foods, since it may be a food’s combination of nutrients that have a synergistic effect. While in many cases eating raw vegetables is preferred, studies show that the amount of lutein and zeaxanthin in spinach is actually HIGHER and becomes more easily absorbed when cooked.
Not Big on Veggies? Here Are Some Other Foods High in Lutein and Zeaxanthin.
In addition to green leafy veggies, these antioxidants are also found in egg yolks (along with omega-3 fatty acids which are also good for eye health), kiwi and red seedless grapes. Some research has even shown that due to an egg yolk’s fat content, the lutein and zeaxanthin from an egg may be more easily absorbed by the body than from other sources.
A key point to always remember is that the use of antioxidants cannot reverse the damage caused by age related macular degeneration or cataracts; however, its use may prevent or slow the progression.
Try This Eye-Healthy (and Mouth-Watering) Recipe
Getting hungry yet? Here’s a recipe that includes both spinach and eggs for a great one-two punch of eye nutrition. Try this overnight savory breakfast casserole from our friends at Neighbor Food Blog: https://neighborfoodblog.com/2019/11/overnight-breakfast-casserole-with-bacon.html