Fall’s Bounty: A Cornucopia of Eye-Healthy Foods
Enjoy the season’s harvest by adding eye-healthy foods, such as winter squash, kale and leeks, to your diet. This simple adjustment can help you improve your overall health and prevent eye disease.
By 2050, the National Eye Institute expects the number of people with visual impairment or blindness in the United States to reach more than 8 million. Eating the right foods and engaging in other healthy habits helps lower your risk of serious health issues as you get older, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts and eye-related diabetes complications.
Enjoy any of these delicious fruits and vegetables this fall to take advantage of their properties beneficial for your eye health:
- Pumpkins – Don’t reach for that pumpkin spice latte just yet. We’re talking about real pumpkins, not the many varieties of pumpkin-flavored treats that pop up this time of year. Harvested from September through November, pumpkins contain many eye-healthy nutrients, such as vitamins A, C and E, as well as zinc, fiber, lutein and zeaxanthin, according to the American Optometric Association. Enjoy pumpkins in soup, roasted alongside your favorite entrée or incorporated into a pasta dish.
- Winter squash – Enjoy squash from October to January for its multitude of health benefits. It contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that help protect the retina. It is also a good source of beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for your eyes, with a deficiency in this vitamin leading to night blindness. Try incorporating squash into soup, risotto, stew or curry for a flavorful fall meal.
- Leeks – A member of the allium family, leeks have a mildly sweet flavor similar to onions, shallots, garlic and chives. According to Natural Food Series, this low-calorie, high-fiber vegetable contains vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin, all of which can help prevent eye disease. Thinly slice your leeks to enjoy them raw or as a garnish for soups and salads, or caramelize them alongside your favorite protein.
· Apples – You’re likely familiar with the adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but did you know apples can also help keep your optometrist at bay? According to Optimax, apples contain lutein, flavonoid compounds and antioxidant phytonutrients — beneficial nutrients that can help protect your eyes, prevent glaucoma and boost your night vision. Don’t limit your apple intake to a seasonal apple pie, either. Apples can be roasted alongside an entree, sliced to be enjoyed in a salad and more.
- Kale – Dark leafy greens like kale are in season through November and are a valuable source of lutein and zeaxanthin. According to Eat Right, your body needs fat to absorb these antioxidants, so enjoy them with healthy fat sources, such as olive oil, avocado or nuts like almonds, hazelnuts and pecans. Kale is a common addition to salads, but many other ways to enjoy this healthy green exist. Consult this list by Bon Appetit to get your meal prep started.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important in maintaining good health. It can also help you feel — and see — your best. Consult your doctor or other healthcare professionals before changing your wellness routine, including diet.
The Healthy Vision Association (HVA) is dedicated to helping its members see well and be healthy by providing access to products, services and information that promote vision and overall health. To discover more vision tips, visit healthyvisionassociation.com.