I’m going to the clinic for my surgery consultation today and will find out when I need to schedule my cataract surgery. So of course today’s topic will be about eye health. I can’t do much about my eye genes. Apparently our family isn’t exactly “blessed” in that department. A few minutes of research into our family health history revealed generations of glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, and poor vision.
However, I can take care of the eyes I have and listen to the advice of my ophthalmologist. One of the things that he encourages is healthy eating, especially of dark leafy greens.
According to my reading this week, the most important foods for preventing macular degeneration are ones that are rich in zinc, beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein and zeaxanthin and omega-3 fats. Research has also shown that a diet rich in two B vitamins - riboflavin (B2) and niacin (B3) - may also help reduce the risk of cataracts.
- Beta carotene-rich foods: carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, cantaloupe, apricots and cherries.
- Vitamin C-rich foods: bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, oranges, strawberries and kiwis.
- Vitamin E-rich foods: wheat germ, almonds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, peanut butter and avocados.
- Zinc-rich foods: oysters, turkey, pumpkin seeds and chick peas.
- Lutein-Zeaxanthin-rich foods: Occur together in spinach, Swiss chard, watercress, corn and persimmons.
- Omega-3 fats: wild salmon, sardines, Atlantic mackerel, tuna, walnuts, and omega-3-fortified eggs.
- Riboflavin-rich foods: skim milk and low-fat yogurt, eggs, mushrooms and almonds
- Niacin-rich foods: chicken and turkey breast, wild salmon, kidney beans and natural peanut butter
It’s one thing to read the list, and quite another to change your eating habits. I would suggest that if you don’t eat any fish that you start with that change. Try adding it to your diet once a week. I prefer salmon and try to eat it twice a week, along with some other fish once a week.
We eat salad almost every night. It’s easy to add spinach, kale, carrots, and many other veggies to your lettuce. Also a good place to throw in a few sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts, or dried berries.
Sweet potatoes are one of the best things we’ve added to our diet this year! I prefer them baked, but they are also great fried.
Your morning bowl of cereal will be healthier if you use skim milk and toss a little wheat germ or flaxseed into it. You know I always put a teaspoon of peanut butter into my oatmeal!
Look at the list again and try to be creative. Remember that most of the foods that are good for your eyes are also good for the rest of your body, especially your heart. Just watch the calories in nuts and make sure you buy them in the shell or “unsalted”.
Eat well, and have a great day!