by Dr. Laurie Capogna and Dr. Barbara Pelletier
Which is better 1 or 2?
1: Juicy hamburger topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, tomatoes and iceberg lettuce on a Kaiser bun served with a side of sweet potato fries.
2: Turkey burger topped avocado, roasted peppers and romaine lettuce served on a whole grain bun with a spinach & mango salad.
While choice number one may be more common during your years as a student – we challenge you to start to make better everyday choices that will lead you to a lifetime of healthier eyes. Choosing to eat eye healthy foods now will put you on the right track to inspire and motivate your patients to make the same healthy choices that will benefit their ocular health.
There are numerous studies that show a link between carotenoids, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids and a decrease in risk or progression of chronic ocular conditions such as AMD, cataracts and dry eye. However, an even more compelling reason to be proactive and include eyefoods into your diet every day is that the eye uses nutrients to function.
What are the most important foods and nutrients that you need to be including in your diet?
Leafy Greens: A handful a day helps keep AMD away
Kale, spinach, collard greens, and romaine lettuce are a few leafy greens that contain high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and zinc. Kale is king in this category. There is 10mg of lutein in 1 medium leaf of kale.
Orange Peppers: Eat 2 peppers per week, 2 ways. Raw and cooked.
Orange peppers contain high amounts of zeaxanthin, a carotenoid that is found in the very center of the fovea. They are also high in vitamin C, vitamin E, and lutein.
- Add a small amount of healthy oil to your leafy greens and orange peppers to help your body absorb the lutein and zeaxanthin.
- Enjoy both leafy greens and orange peppers both raw and cooked for maximum benefit from all the eye nutrients.
Eat 4 fish per week: Small is safe
Wild salmon, rainbow trout, sardines and mackerel are high in DHA and EPA, two important omega-3 fatty acids for ocular health and function. These fish choices are also low in contaminants so it is safe to eat them regularly.
Small fish tend to be low in contaminants because they are lower on the food chain. If the entire fish can fit on your dinner plate, it is most likely low in contaminants.
Student Friendly Eyefood Meals:
- Canned salmon mixed with light mayonnaise and green onions. Wrap it in a leaf of romaine lettuce for an added bonus of lutein.
- Make this quick salad with ½ handful romaine lettuce, ½ handful spinach, orange peppers, turkey breast, eggs and pumpkin seeds. Dress with olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper.
Quick pre-class pick me up:
Dr. Barb’s Green Smoothie:
This delicious, vibrant smoothie is sure to make you love kale. Share it with your friends for a memorable event!
Photo: Copyright: caldix / 123RF Stock Photo
Drs. Capogna and Pelletier are the authors of the books Eyefoods: A Food Plan for Healthy Eyes and Eyefoods for Kids: A Tasty Guide to Nutrition and Eye Health. Both books provide a clear plan for patients and are designed to help the eye care professional incorporate nutrition into their practice. To learn more about Eyefoods please visit www.eyefoods .com.