Food for healthy eyes

The Punch - - SUNDAY FOODIE -

You have prob­a­bly heard that car­rots and other or­ange-coloured fruits and veg­eta­bles pro­mote eye health and pro­tect vision, and it’s true. Beta-carotene, a type of vi­ta­min A that gives these foods their or­ange hue, helps the retina and other parts of the eye to func­tion smoothly.

But eat­ing your way to good eye­sight isn’t only about beta-carotene. Though their con­nec­tion to vision isn’t as well-known, sev­eral other vi­ta­mins and min­er­als are es­sen­tial for healthy eyes. Make these foods a sta­ple of your diet to keep your peep­ers in tip-top shape.

They are packed with lutein and zeax­an­thin –- an­tiox­i­dants that, stud­ies show, lower the risk of de­vel­op­ing mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion and cataracts. One large study showed that women, who had di­ets high in lutein, were 23 per cent less likely to de­velop cataracts than women whose di­ets were low in this nu­tri­ent. Not a big fan of kale? Not to worry! Other dark leafy green veg­eta­bles, like spinach, ro­maine let­tuce, col­lards and turnip greens, also con­tain sig­nif­i­cant amounts of lutein and zeax­an­thin. Eggs are also a good source of these nu­tri­ents, as are broc­coli, peas and corn.

The yolk is a prime source of lutein and zeax­an­thin – plus zinc – which also helps re­duce your mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion risk, ac­cord­ing to Paul Dougherty, MD, med­i­cal di­rec­tor of Dougherty Laser Vision in Los Angeles.

They are filled with vi­ta­min E, which slows mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion, re­search shows. One hand­ful (an ounce) pro­vides about half of your daily dose of E.

Tuna, sal­mon, mack­erel, an­chovies, and trout are rich in DHA, a fatty acid found in your retina – low lev­els of which have been linked to dry eye syn­drome, says Jimmy Lee, MD, di­rec­tor of re­frac­tive surgery at the Mon­te­fiore Med­i­cal Cen­tre in New York City.

Or­anges and all of their cit­rus cousins — grape­fruit, tan­ger­ines, and lemons — are high in vi­ta­min C, an an­tiox­i­dant that is crit­i­cal to eye health. Sci­en­tists have found that your eyes need rel­a­tively high lev­els of vi­ta­min C to func­tion prop­erly, and an­tiox­i­dants can pre­vent or at least de­lay cataracts and AMD. Lots of other foods of­fer ben­e­fits sim­i­lar to or­anges, in­clud­ing peaches, red pep­pers, toma­toes and straw­ber­ries.

Legumes of all kinds, in­clud­ing black-eyed peas, kid­ney beans, lima beans and peanuts, con­tain zinc, an es­sen­tial trace min­eral found in high con­cen­tra­tion in the eyes. Zinc may help pro­tect your eyes from the dam­ag­ing ef­fects of light. Other foods high in zinc in­clude oys­ters, lean red meat, poul­try and for­ti­fied ce­re­als.

There are lots of other great food choices to keep your eyes healthy. Among them, the one most peo­ple think of first: car­rots. Car­rots are high in beta-carotene, a nu­tri­ent that helps with night vision, as are other or­ange-coloured fruits and veg­eta­bles like sweet pota­toes, apri­cots, and can­taloupe. Mak­ing them a part of a colourful diet can help you keep your eyes healthy.

Bell pep­per gives you the most vi­ta­min C per calo­rie. That’s good for the blood ves­sels in your eyes, and science sug­gests it could lower your risk of get­ting cataracts. It’s found in many veg­eta­bles and fruits, in­clud­ing bok choy, cau­li­flower, pa­payas and straw­ber­ries. Heat will break down vi­ta­min C; so, go raw when you can. Brightly-coloured pep­per also packs eye-friendly vi­ta­mins A and E.

Or­ange-coloured fruits and veg­eta­bles -- like sweet pota­toes, car­rots, can­taloupe, man­gos, and apri­cots -- are high in beta-carotene, a form of vi­ta­min A that helps with night vision and aids eyes’ abil­ity to ad­just to dark­ness. One sweet po­tato also has more than half the vi­ta­min C you need in a day and a lit­tle vi­ta­min E.

One of the key in­gre­di­ents in pre­par­ing a per­fect and de­li­cious Nk­wobi is potash and a Se­nior Re­search Sci­en­tist, at the Fed­eral In­sti­tute of In­dus­trial Re­search, Mr. Ochuko Erukain­ure, has said ex­ces­sive con­sump­tion of potash would re­duce sperm pro­duc­tion and cause tes­tic­u­lar in­jury. Ac­cord­ing to him, potash does this by sup­press­ing steroido­ge­n­e­sis (a process by which sperm is formed) and al­ters the his­tol­ogy of the tes­tic­u­lar tis­sues.

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