By Kristen Hicks-Roof PhD, RDN & Caroline Jury BS
When someone mentions eye health, what vegetables come to mind? For me, I always think of carrots; my mother would always say to eat carrots for better eyesight. Did you know that this is actually an old wives’ tale that dates back to World War II? To cover for their technology, the British intelligence started spreading rumors that the key to the Royal Air Force’s extraordinary night vision was due to eating lots of carrots. Learn more about the history: https://tinyurl.com/485hkscn.
In today’s world, we have a different dilemma with eye health; with the rapid growth of smartphones, computers, and iPads, there is also an increase in eye discomfort, blurred vision, eye strain, eye pain, and visual fatigue. In celebration of this month’s theme, Children’s Eye Health/Safety Month, let’s dig deeper into nutrients we can get from fruits and vegetables to support healthy eyes and vision.
- Vitamin A: This nutrient is responsible for our eyes’ ability to see in low light level conditions. Food sources: carrots, tomatoes, leafy greens, red bell pepper, sweet potato, liver, and tuna.
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin: These carotenoids help with anti-inflammatory and prevention of age-related macular disease. Food sources: leafy greens, pistachios, corn, peas, and eggs.
- Quercetin: This flavonoid is an antioxidant that is a protective barrier for the external portion of the ocular surface. Food sources: citrus fruits, tea (black/green), berries, red onion, and red wine.
- Vitamin C: This nutrient helps protect lenses from harmful UV light. Food sources: strawberries, kiwi, oranges, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and red bell peppers.
A quick recipe I would like to share with the nutrients listed above is the Eye-Health Smoothie: ⅔ cup spinach or kale, 1 cup water/low-fat dairy, 1 frozen sliced banana, 3 red bell pepper slices, and 5 frozen strawberries. Blend and enjoy!
Kristen Hicks-Roof PhD, RDN, LDN, CLC, FAND is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Brooks College of Health, University of North Florida.
Photo courtesy MetroCreative