Eating for Healthy Eyes

[TV segment #0007 
Producer: Karen Owoc   Director of Photography: Michael Davich

March is “Save Your Vision Month”.  The eyes age just like the skin and are at risk for chronic diseases. Approximately 43 million Americans suffer from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or cataracts, the leading causes of vision loss and blindness.  Here’s a quick overview of the key nutrients that help preserve your vision.  See also Are Carrots Good for Cataracts?.

Are Carrots Good for Cataracts?

Q:  Do carrots really help your eyesight?  Both my wife and I have had cataract surgery.  Is there anything that we can eat to help protect our vision? ~ V.O., Bath, OH

Carrots contain eye-healthy compoundsA: Carrots contain lutein (LOO-teen) and zeaxanthin (zee-uh-ZAN-thin) which are nutrients that may protect the eyes. Lutein and zeaxanthin are xanthophylls that belong to the carotenoid family of organic pigments. Xanthophylls are found naturally in plants and give fruits and vegetables their pretty colors. They are found in the flesh of the fruit and vegetable as well as in the leaves.

Cataracts and ARMD

Lutein and zeaxanthin are yellow-orange-red pigments that accumulate in the lens of the human eye and the central part of the retina (macula) and filter harmful components of sunlight. In ongoing research studies, both lutein and zeaxanthin have been found to help protect against eye diseases, such as cataracts (caused by oxidative stress and solar damage to the lens of the eye). Some studies have shown these nutrients actually lowered the need for cataract surgery by up to 20% with up to a 40% reduction in the risk for age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). ARMD is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly.   Continue reading “Are Carrots Good for Cataracts?”

Broccoli Almond Salad with Avocado

AvocadoLooking for a quick side dish that’s different and delicious?  When you’re in the mood for a new twist on the usual steamed broccoli, give this salad a try.  The rough crunchy texture of the broccoli and almonds combined with the smooth creaminess of the avocado create a tasty contrast per forkful.

Avocados are a good source of both heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (known to lower blood cholesterol) and vitamin E, a powerful anti-aging antioxidant.

Both avocados and broccoli contain lutein – a nutrient from the carotenoid family of chemicals that contain pigments.  Lutein is one of the primary yellow pigments found in the central part of the retina (macula) that absorbs harmful components of sunlight.  Both lutein and zeaxanthin have been found to help protect against eye diseases, such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), ARMD is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly.

One serving (1 1/4 cup) of this salad contains a whopping 4.5 mg of lutein which nearly meets the 6 mg that is recommended per day by leading physicians.   Continue reading “Broccoli Almond Salad with Avocado”