We all know how consuming carrots is supposed to be good for our eyesight. We also can be fairly confident we won't turn orange by eating carrots, especially lots of carrots, which deserve a pat on the back for how good a snack they make. Even better news is knowing that plenty of edibles other than carrots also deserve a mention for their visual-health properties, which is a timely eye opener considering that May is Vision Health Month.
When shopping for groceries with an eye toward good vision health, look closely for foods that contain nutrients with antioxidant properties known to help support normal vision acuity and eye function. Such beneficial nutrients, according to the Mayo Clinic, include beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamins E and C, as well as those containing zinc or which are rich in Omega-3. Translated, be on the lookout for products found on the shelves and along the aisles at your local groceries such as kale, collard greens and Swiss chard among the vegetables; peaches, tangerines, and avocado in the fruit section; and the likes of lamb, lean beef, and fortified breakfast cereals as handy sources of zinc. As for Omega-3-rich foods, set your sights on fish products such as salmon, herring, and rainbow trout as well as flaxseed, English walnuts, and roasted soybeans.
Essentially, a discerning shopper picking from these varieties of food stuff can search out and find about a week's worth of recipe ingredients that cater to the visual aficionados who know a good thing when they see it. Best-selling author and osteopathic physician and surgeon Dr. Joseph Mercola, a renowned authority on how nutrients work to support healthy bodies, also suggests lesser-known whole foods when the subject is eye health: black currant and bilberry, the latter a close relative to the blueberry.
"Research has found that black currants are far more powerful than lutein, zeaxanthin, or bilberry—all of which have are known to support eye health," Mercola writes in his article "Foods That Can Help Protect and Improve Your Eyesight," found at articles.mercola.com. Also, he points out, "Bilberry … is another nutritional powerhouse for your eyes. Its nearly black berries contain high amounts of anthocyanins, just like the black currant."
Know this, though: stuffing your face with all these dozens of different foods singled out by experts for their ability to nourish eyesight won't necessarily reward you with Superman's visual acuity or bulletproof your eye health if you are ignoring other facets of a healthy lifestyle. Factors such as being overweight and/or having high blood pressure can also be detrimental to your eyes. That should be motivation enough to follow a well-balanced diet while maintaining a doctor's prescribed exercise regimen, among other things. And if you smoke? Stop now, while you are ahead, or at least less behind.
According to Mercola, high blood pressure can damage the tiny blood vessels on your retina, obstructing free blood flow. Toward this end, he also warns against sugar, especially fructose, and trans fats, and to normalize your blood sugar levels because "excessive sugar in your blood can pull fluid from the lens of your eye, affecting your ability to focus."
So, now that you are watching your blood sugar and blood pressure, exercising regularly and being a smart shopper, what can you do in the kitchen to make all those eye-healthy nutrients work for you? Let's take a peek at the "Eat Right for Your Sight" cookbook, authored by Jennifer Trainer Thompson and Johanna M. Sendon, MD. It offers a plethora of mouth-watering, eye-nurturing recipes that include Thai Winter Squash Stew and Spa Baklava. Plus, if you insist on getting a delightful dose of those beloved carrots, you can always try their Carrot-Cumin Soup, with just two carrots yielding about four times the recommended daily allowance. Slurp to your eyes' delight.