“Every time you open your mouth, you have an opportunity to improve your health or promote disease,” says Elizabeth Somer, R.D., author of Eat Your Way Sexy. While nutritious foods are good for your whole body (antioxidants help keep vessels clean no matter where they are) certain foods and nutrients are especially beneficial for different parts.
Since we’re wrapping up Healthy Vision Month, we asked Somer to give us a rundown of her top 10 eats for your eyes. Vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, beta carotene, lutein have been shown to reduce risk for cataracts and macular degeneration. Here are foods that are high in these nutrients, plus ideas for how to incorporate them in your diet.
- Spinach: Toss these lutein superstars into lasagna, layer leaves in sandwiches or even blend in a smoothie (you won’t taste it mixed with fruit!). Just 10 milligrams of lutein per day—about 1/2 cup spinach—can help prevent vision loss, research has proven.
- Broccoli: The green veggies, delicious in salads, soups or these twice-baked potatoes (yum!), pack a one-two punch of vitamin C and lutein.
- Citrus fruits: Slice up an orange or grapefruit as a side with your lunch salad or sandwich for some vitamin C.
- Nuts: High in both omega-3 fatty acids (which may help prevent dry eyes) and vitamin E, nuts like almonds and cashews are great picks. Snack on an ounce or mix a tablespoon into your morning oatmeal or yogurt.
- Seafood: Many fish are naturally rich in omega-3 fats. Try salmon or arctic char for the largest dose, and find some of our favorite seafood recipes here.
- Bell peppers: Serve in a stir-fry or dip in hummus more vitamin C in your diet. One red bell pepper provides 240 percent of your recommended daily amount of the vitamin!
- Avocado: Mash them up in guacamole or slice on top of a sandwich for some hunger-fighting healthy fats and peeper-promoting vitamin E.
- Carrots: Bugs Bunny was on to something…beta carotene was actually named after carrots since the veggies are such an ample source. Throw slices or coins into salads, pasta primavera or soups.
- Sweet Potatoes: Another super source of beta carotene, these tubers are tasty in mashes (swap for basic white potatoes) or baked in the oven as healthier fries.
- Whole grains: You’ve heard that going whole is better for more fiber, but foods like whole-wheat breads, pastas and cereals also pack zinc and selenium. Serve that bell pepper stir-fry over brown rice for a meal that’s a feast for the eyes.
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