Which Foods Help Sustain Eye Health?
Often, we look outside for things that will help our eyes look healthy, more natural, and young. But, what may help you the most are the very things we are made of and what contributes to overall health.
As discussed in a previous article, Day 3: How You Can Use Physical Activity To Improve Your Eye Health, you have highways and bi-ways of blood vessels throughout your eyes, keeping these headlights of your vehicle (body) clean.
Our body works together, day and night, us in a balanced working condition. Just like a car, we provide our body the fuel it needs to function efficiently and effectively.
Although we are still learning about the human body, research consistently points to several key plant compounds necessary for optimal eye health. In addition, if we come from nature, we have a better chance of staying healthy by aligning ourselves with nature, including the foods from nature.
There are three concentrated carotenoids, plant compounds, found in the macula of your eye, and they are lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin. Both lutein and zeaxanthin are found in green, orange, and yellow vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli, orange and yellow fruits, and egg yolks. Research shows that lutein and zeaxanthin may help promote eye health by preventing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. In addition, lutein may also prevent cancer and protect you from heart disease. Meso-zeaxanthin may be a byproduct of lutein and zeaxanthin.
Many of the foods that protect your eyes (i.e., green vegetables) contain antioxidants, which help keep your cells intact. Antioxidants give up their charge (mostly neutral) to balance free radicals (unpaired neutrons) produced from metabolism. Too many free radicals in your body lead to a type of stress called oxidative stress, increasing your risk for cancer, eye & heart disease, and other health ailments.
Other key nutrients include Omega-3 fatty acids (i.e., salmon, sardines, mackerel), zinc (i.e., beef, chicken, oysters, turkey), Vitamin A (carrots, sweet potatoes), Vitamin C (oranges, peaches, grapefruits), and Vitamin E ( i.e.almonds, avocado, peanuts).
Check out the Food & Drug Administration Daily Allowances chart based on age to better understand the number of nutrients (minerals and vitamins you need to help your body.
Let’s be what my husband said yesterday morning “fit as a family.” This week, I will share ways you can add some of these foods to your meal plan. Remember, balance, moderation, and portion sizes are the key. Too much of one thing can cause an imbalance in your body.
Use teachable moments to ask the questions you want to know and share the knowledge and wisdom you gained. For example,
- When you are at your healthcare provider’s visit, ask what you can do to protect your eyes.
- Health class starts at home. As you learn about foods to increase eye health, talk to your children about the foods on their plate at mealtimes.
You can also.
- Print off the list of healthy eye foods. Hang the list on the refrigerator and aim to include one food item off the list a day.
- Print off a copy of My plate to help increase your colorful, healthy meals.
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