Written by Michelle Chang
It's easy for many of us to take our sense of vision for granted, often neglecting any specific procedures. Still, there are many things we can do if we want to keep our vision durable and healthy, and to protect it from any eye diseases. Since our eyes are vascular, a heart-healthy diet that’s low in trans and saturated fat is crucial to keep our eye’s blood vessels healthy.
Foods rich in antioxidants are also known to help protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) as well as cataracts and other eye-related conditions.
As we’re all spending a lot more time at home, now is the ideal time for experimenting more with food. Although most times we just want something quick and easy, cooking can actually be a relaxing pastime. If it can be both quick and easy, then all the better.
Here are two easy heart-healthy recipes designed to boost your eye health. Enjoy!
1. Kale & Tomato Chickpea Soup
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 tbsp. lemon zest
- ¼ to ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
- 1 14-oz can tomato puree (or use fresh tomato if desired)
- 1 bunch kale, stems and tough ribs removed, leaves coarsely chopped (about 13 cups)
- 1 15.5-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add garlic and lemon zest and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add red pepper and fennel seeds and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes.
- Add tomato puree, 4 cups water, and 1 tsp salt. Cover and bring to a boil; add kale and simmer for 4 minutes.
- Add chickpeas and simmer until heated through, about 2 minutes more. Serve with lemon wedges if desired.
Why are they good for the eyes?
Tomatoes are packed with carotenoids, including lycopene, which gives tomatoes its vibrant red color. Research indicates that the lycopene present in ocular tissues helps prevent light-induced damage to the retina and other areas of the eye.
Nutrition tips: Tomatoes are also an excellent source of vitamin C, another vision protector. As lycopene is a fat-soluble nutrient, processed tomato products with some olive oil will help boost the absorption of lycopene.
Kale and other dark, leafy greens are rich in two antioxidants stored in the macula — lutein and zeaxanthin. The macula is a part of the retina that functions as a natural sunblock, protecting the eye from damaging lights.
Lutein and zeaxanthin absorb blue light, which is especially harmful to the retina. These nutrients can also help the eye detect contrast better, so eating foods rich in these antioxidants is not only good for the vision, but also sustains your vision in the long run.
Nutrition Tips: Since lutein and zeaxanthin are also fat-soluble, eating your greens with olive oil will help ensure that you absorb more of them.
2. Blueberry & Chia Seed Smoothie
- Oat Milk (or any other plant-based milk you prefer) 1 cup
- Frozen Blueberries & Strawberries 1 cup
- Vanilla Greek Yogurt 1 serv.
- Cinnamon 1 tsp
- Chia seed 1 tbp
- Add oat milk into a high powered blender
- Toss in strawberries, blueberries, chia seeds, greek yogurt, and cinnamon.
- Blend it until smooth. (if you prefer a thinner smoothie, add in a bit more oat milk. If you prefer your smoothie thick, toss in a few ice cubes.)
- Serve, sip, and enjoy!
Why are they good for the eyes?
Blueberries and strawberries are loaded with anthocyanins, a potent antioxidant that easily crosses the blood-retina barrier and prevents blockages in retinal arteries as well as lowering high blood pressure.
Blueberries and strawberries are also rich in vitamin C, which help maintain connective tissue in the eyes and thus prevent macular degeneration. According to the “journal of Orthomolecular medicine”, vitamin C can also help reduce intraocular pressure, decreasing the potential risk for developing glaucoma. In short, blueberries with their anti-inflammatory, vasoprotective, collagen stabilizing properties can benefit the overall functioning of the eyes.
The chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which can help reduce the oxidative damage of the retina, and promote overall eye health. For people with dry eyes, omega-3 fatty acids can also act as a natural remedy for dry eye relief.
Michelle is a registered dietitian, with a postgraduate degree in Dietetics. A vegan and a marathon lover, she now serves as the head of the content at Greenvines, a clean skincare brand that makes a pledge for sustainable skincare.>> https://greenvines.com/