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Eat for Your Eyes

Megan Boe, Dietetic Intern –NDSU Extension Service

We all love when the seasons change, the flowers bloom, the birds return to our yards, and the grass turns from brown to green. In order to observe this wonderful transition we must take care of our eyes!

April is home to Women’s Eye Health and Safety month. There are several pieces to the puzzle when it comes to protecting your eye health. Be sure to wear sunglasses, take breaks from the computer screen and exercise. However, remember to consider one more major piece: Nutrition! Consuming a well-balanced diet including all of the dietary components—fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein, grains and healthy fats can help protect your eyes. The nutrients found in fruits, vegetables and fatty fish help to protect against macular degeneration, cataracts and dry eyes.

Fruits and vegetables are great sources of carotenoids, zeaxanthin and lutein. Carotenoids are vitamin A-like compounds that are converted in your body to the active form of vitamin A. Many different carotenoids exist, but the most significant to eye health are beta carotene, zeaxanthin and lutein. Zeaxanthin and lutein act as antioxidants to help protect the retina of your eye and reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Some common sources of these nutrients include bell peppers, broccoli, brusselssprouts, carrots, kale, mangos, oranges, spinach and zucchini. As you can see it is important to include different colors of fruits and vegetables in your diet.

A study funded in part by the National Eye institute has found that omega-3 fatty acids play a role in keeping your eyes healthy. Omega-3 fats can help alleviate dry eyes and prevent abnormal blood vessel growth. Omega-3 fats can be found in nuts and seeds, salmon, flax and chia seeds, and tuna.

For more information on nutrients for healthy eyes visit www.ndsu.edu/boomers and click on eyes.

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Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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