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Holiday Food for the Eyes

The holidays are already upon us, with so much to do and so much to eat. Whether you’re making some last minute adjustments to your dinner plans or the menu to cook for your guests, you’re probably expecting to put on some pounds this season, although there’s nothing wrong with more of a good thing if the food is healthy. Keep in mind that a diet low in fat and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help not only your arteries healthy but your eyes as well.

Many fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids which help parts of the eye function smoothly. You might consider holiday dishes like carrot soup or glazed carrots, sweet potato souffle and steamed kale. Even cherry pie and pumpkin pie are good sources of beta-carotene.

Leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard, kale, romaine lettuce and collard greens are packed with lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants known to lower the risk of developing macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. Egg yolks are also a prime source for lutein and zeaxanthin, as are broccoli, peas and corn. Consider side dishes like spinach salad, winter squash or corn.

Fruits like grapefruit, oranges, tangerines and strawberries, to name a few, are an important source of Vitamin C which also helps reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts by strengthening ocular vessels. Great holiday dishes include stuffed peppers, broccoli casserole, sautéed Brussel sprouts. Holiday favorites like cranberries, pumpkin and, yes, chestnuts are also good sources.

Foods rich in Vitamin E like almonds, pecans are also useful in slowing macular degeneration.

Tuna, salmon, halibut, sardines and trout are beneficial for their high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, low levels of which have been linked to dry eye syndrome.

Zinc also helps keep the retinas in good working order. Fortunately, lean meat like turkey is a great source of zinc, which should be welcome news for anyone who enjoys extra helpings on Thanksgiving Day. Black-eyed peas, kidney beans and peanuts also contain zinc.

You also have one more excuse to knock back a glass of red wine, which is high in antioxidants that reduce the effects of age-related macular degeneration.

Of course, eating for eye health doesn’t just start and end at the holidays. Hopefully great eating habits will last until the next holidays are rapidly upon us; although with so many tasty foods with beneficial nutrients for the eyes, it should be fun to eat smart.