Optimize your Eye Health this Thanksgiving

As we roll into the holiday season, sharing meals with family and friends is at the top of the list for many.  Thanksgiving meals aren’t typically known for their health benefits, however, a few conscious choices could offer up healthy options that benefit both eye and overall health.  All the holiday greens, yellows, reds, and oranges on your Thanksgiving table contain eye-healthy ingredients galore.  This is excellent news for those of us who always end up with eyes bigger than our stomachs this time of the year! We are here to celebrate and share with you some of the most popular Thanksgiving dishes and how they correspond in benefiting your eye health.

Dishes containing food such as carrots, sweet potatoes, cherries, apricots, kale or pumpkin are all rich in the nutrient beta-carotene.  Beta-carotene is converted to retinol that is essential for vision.  It is a carotenoid and antioxidant that promotes night vision and overall good eyesight.  Most are familiar with this nutrient in carrots, but in the event you aren’t a carrot lover, there try one of the other options to get your fix.

Spinach, green bean casserole, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts along with other leafy greens are loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, both nutrients that help protect the retina as well as reduce the risk of cataracts.  Adding kale, spinach, or romaine lettuce to salads helps your eyes absorb damaging blue light, combats the effects of cigarette smoke and pollution, and also decreases the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that affects the macula, the part of your retina responsible for central vision.   You can also find lutein in grapes, kiwis, broccoli, peas, corn, swiss chard, and collard greens. 

Cranberries, contributing to a holiday favorite, cranberry sauce, contain bioflavonoids, which are a large class of antioxidants found in the pulp, skin, and rinds of foods containing vitamin C.  Both flavonoids and vitamin C help protect the eyes from free radical damage which can be caused by outside pollution or the body’s metabolic process.

Last, turkey and lean beef, our favorite for the holidays, do plenty of work to help keep your eyes strong and healthy.  Both of these foods are very high in zinc.  Zinc is a nutrient that is very important to the retina and the choroid (a layer beneath the retina) and is vital to good night vision.  In addition to other nutrients discussed, foods high in zinc can also reduce the risk of cataracts and AMD. 

Additional foods such as fish, fruits and whole grains also prove to boast many eye health benefits. Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, reducing the risk of developing glaucoma in addition to dry eye or AMD.  Whole grains can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. 

Proper nutrition, however, is only a part of the recipe for healthy eyes.  Regular, comprehensive eye exams represent the most important ingredient to preventative eye health.  Many eye diseases can often go undetected and without symptoms.  Early detection and diagnoses can often prevent or at least slow down vision loss.  optomap® can help doctors to detect vision problems earlier, in order to provide optimum treatment.  Visit our website to find a doctor in your area utilizing optomap today.