A Thanksgiving Feast for Your Eyes

With the holidays just around the corner, our diets may be affected for several weeks. Just think of all the extras at your Thanksgiving meal – and all of the pies and desserts! This is the perfect time of year to discuss nutrition and its effect on your eye health. We can sneak in some extra healthy food options as well to help fight disease such as cataracts, dry eye and macular degeneration.

Carrots are probably the most widely known vegetable to benefit your eyes, however, other red and orange vegetables can add the same beta-carotene to your diets. Examples include pumpkin, sweet potatoes or red pepper. Beta-carotene is converted to Vitamin A which aids in night vision.

Leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, are loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients help filter the damaging high-energy blue wavelengths of visible light. These antioxidant properties help protect cells from free radicals and subsequent oxidative stress that can harm the retina.

Vitamins C and E are other important nutrients for eye health. Vitamin C can be found in brussel sprouts and strawberries. Adding a handful of sunflower seeds or almonds to a salad can provide you with Vitamin E. Both nutrients work together to maintain strong, healthy tissues.

Zinc is essential for retinal health and is found in high concentrations in the macula. This mineral aids in the production of melanin pigment, which helps protect the eye. Turkey and eggs are two common examples that contain zinc.

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are also advantageous to your ocular health and are critical for the normal functioning of all types of cells. Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Eicoapentaenoic Acid (EPA) are the two most beneficial when considering your eyes. Cold-water fish, such as salmon and sardines, are excellent sources of these omega-3 fatty acids.

After reviewing the ocular health benefits of the mentioned nutrients, it's easy to see how we can incorporate these into our next meal, or even into our big Thanksgiving dinner plans. A positive change in diet is important for our eye health as well as for our overall systemic health.

 

Pamela Lynch, OD
West Shore Eye Care