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Feed Your Eyes to See in the Future

Your eyes are very important for everyday living. As we age, our eyes tend to decline due to various diseases, including cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma, to name a few. These diseases can cause vision loss and are painful.

Test your knowledge. Answers to the questions are listed at the end of this article.

1. Which of the vitamins listed below promote eye health?

          a.    Vitamin B12

          b.    Vitamin A

          c.    Vitamin K

2 What food is the best source of vitamin E?

          a.    Soybean oil

          b.    Chicken

          c.    Carrots

Your eyes are very important for everyday living. As we age, our eyes tend to decline due to various diseases, including cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma, to name a few. These diseases can cause vision loss and are painful.

You can prevent many eye problems by promoting your eye health with the foods you eat. Eyes require many different nutrients to remain healthy. Some nutrients that are import for your eyes are lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids and zinc.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that reduce your risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Some food sources of these nutrients are collard greens, turnip greens and spinach, broccoli, peas, eggs, kiwi, red grapes, yellow squash, oranges, corn, mangoes and honeydew melon.

Vitamin A is produced in your body from beta carotene. Vitamin A is important for preventing night blindness and eye infections. Some food sources of vitamin A are sweet potatoes, carrots,  butternut squash, kale, spinach, collard greens, liver, milk and eggs.

Vitamin C lowers your risk of developing cataracts and supports the health of the blood vessels in your eyes. Some food sources of vitamin C are strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, citrus such as orange and grapefruit, and cantaloupe.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect your eyes by removing cells that destroy healthy tissue called free radicles. Some food sources of vitamin E are nuts such as almonds, peanuts and hazel nuts, sunflower seeds, soybean oil, fortified cereals, and green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli.

Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that maintains the structure of the nervous system, nourishes cells and improves your immune system. You need omega-3 to have proper visual development and retinal function. Some food sources are fatty fish such as salmon, and walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds.

Zinc is a helper molecule that is responsible for transporting vitamin A from the liver to the retina, where it can do its job in producing a protective pigment in your eye called melanin. Some food sources of zinc are oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals and dairy products.

Try these three tips to promote eye health:

  1. Have dressing with your salad. Many of the nutrients that are good for your eyes are better absorbed in your body if eaten with fat. Add a vinaigrette dressing to your salad or sauté sweet potatoes in olive oil.
  2. Wear sunglasses to avoid sun damage on your eyes. The ultraviolet (UV) light that comes from the sun can damage your eyes, causing macular degeneration and cataracts. The National Eye Institute recommends purchasing sunglasses that have 99 to 100 percent UVA and UVB protection. A wide-brim hat also is a good way to protect your eyes from harmful sun rays.
  3. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that adults get a complete eye exam once they reach the age of 40 or sooner if they have a family history of eye diseases. Catching eye diseases early is important to prevent further deterioration.

Sources:

Answers: 1. b; 2. a

 

Clare Reinhardt, Dietetic Intern, NDSU Extension

 

Filed under: fca newsletter

Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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