Eye Nutrition Articles
Your Mom Was Right Eating Spinach is Good for You Feast your eyes on these vision-boosting foods
LANSING, Mich., (March 17, 2009) — In honor of March’s Save Your Vision Month, the Michigan Optometric Association (MOA) reminds the Michigan residents that caring for eyes starts with paying attention to nutrition.
Eating foods rich in six nutrients — antioxidants lutein (LOO-teen) and zeaxanthin (zeaxanthin), essential fatty acids, vitamins C and E and the mineral zinc can help protect eye sight and vision.
Research shows 30 million (or one out of four) Americans age 40 and older suffer from some level of vision loss. According to the American Optometric Association’s 2008 American Eye-Q survey, which assesses public knowledge and understanding of a wide range of issues related to eye and visual health, only 29 percent of Americans are coping with vision loss or other eye problems by increasing nutrients for healthy eyes.
Given the positive association between nutrition and age-related eye diseases, it is troubling that fewer than a third of Americans seem to realize the importance of eating healthy. Although eye-healthy foods cannot reverse the damage of eye diseases, research shows it may help prevent or slow the progression of disease.
The Eye-Healthy Diet
The MOA recommends eating a diet with a variety of foods loaded with key nutrients for maintaining and improving eye health.
The American Eye-Q survey showed nearly half of all Americans (48 percent) still believe carrots are the best food for eye health. While carrots do contain nutritional value by supplying the provitamin A beta-carotene which is essential for night vision, spinach and other dark, leafy greens prove to be the healthiest foods for eyes because they naturally contain large amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin.
The following foods contain key nutrients for eye health:
Lutein and zeaxanthin: Colorful fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale, corn, green beans, peas, oranges and tangerines
Essential fatty acids: Fatty fish like tuna, salmon, or herring, whole grain foods, chicken and eggs
Vitamin C: Fruits and vegetables, including oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, papaya, green peppers and tomatoes
Vitamin E: Vegetable oils, such as safflower or corn oil, almonds, pecans, sweet potatoes and sunflower seeds
Zinc: Extra-lean red meat, poultry, liver, shellfish, milk, baked beans and whole grains
There are many recipes that promote healthy eye sight and vision. One example of a quick and easy eye-healthy recipe includes:
Whole-Wheat Penne with Spinach and Gorgonzola*
10 oz. uncooked whole-wheat penne pasta
Olive oil cooking spray
1 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced (~1 medium onion)
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped (~2 cups)
1 (6-ounce) bag fresh baby spinach
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese [or substitute cup low-fat freshly-grated parmesan cheese]
1/3 cup pine nuts (optional)
Cook pasta according to package directions, without salting water.
While pasta is cooking, spray a large, non-stick frying pan with cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat. Add onions, then stir and cook until slightly transparent, approximately 5 minutes. Add garlic, stir and cook for another minute. Add broth and let simmer for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, toss, and simmer for 2 minutes. Add spinach and basil, cook and stir for 2 minutes, or until leaves wilt. Remove from heat and add salt/pepper to taste.
Drain pasta and add to spinach mixture. Thoroughly toss. Serve on a platter and top with gorgonzola (or parmesan) cheese and pine nuts. Makes 6 servings.
Nutritional Information (per serving): 300 Calories 25% fat (8.3 g total, 2.8 g saturated), 57% carbohydrate (43 g), 18% protein (13.5 g), 8 mg cholesterol, 8.6 g fiber, 27 mg vitamin C, 1.33 mg vitamin E, 20.4 mg lutein/zeaxanthin, 271 mg sodium.
-Recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Somer, registered dietician and nutrition research expert.