Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Eating Well for Eye Health

Do you take care of your eyes? Good eating habits are essential for optimal health, and many people do not receive adequate nutrition to support important organ and body systems such as the eyes. The AOA recommends eating a diet with a variety of foods loaded with key nutrients for maintaining and improving eye health, such as lutein and zeaxanthin.

The American Eye-Q survey revealed that 48 percent of Americans believe carrots to be the best food to maintain eye health. While carrots do contain provitamin A beta-carotene which is important for night vision, spinach and other dark, leafy greens remain the best support foods for eyes because they contain large amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin.

The following foods contain critical nutrients for maintaining eye health:

  • Lutein and zeaxanthin Colorful fruits and vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, spinach, corn, peas, green beans, oranges, and tangerines
  • Essential fatty acids fleshy fish from deep sea sources such as salmon, tuna, or herring, organicv whole, sprouted or fermented grains, organic, grass-fed meats and pasture-raised eggs
  • Vitamin C fruits and vegetables like oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, papaya, green peppers and tomatoes.
  • Vitamin E raw almonds or pecans, sweet potatoes, and sunflower seeds.
  • Zinc organic grass-fed meats, pasture-raised poultry, liver, shellfish, raw milk and dairy, and organic whole sprouted grains.
Here are some other notable facts about eye health and nutrition:
  • Eating leafy greens like spinach can lower the risk of developing eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Leafy greens contain high amounts of lutein, an important eye nutrient. Add 10 mg of lutein to meals daily or eat one cup of cooked spinach four times weekly.
  • More than 50% of Americans do not take in the recommended dosage of Vitamin C per day. Vitamin C has been linked, in approved amounts, to minimize or reduce the risk of cataracts and AMD. Eat fruits and vegetables that contain Vitamin C such as green peppers, citrus fruits and juices, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, turnip greens and other leafy greens, sweet and white potatoes, and cantaloupe. Other good sources include mangoes, papaya, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, watermelon, cabbage, winter squash, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, pineapples, and red peppers.
If you are not receiving adequate amounts of these nutrients from food, make sure you are taking a good quality, whole-food, organically-produced supplement to fill in the gaps. Consult with a knowledgeable health care practitioner to find out which product is right for you.

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