Nuts and seeds are small but beneficial. They are packed full of nutrients, protein, and healthy fats. While many people think fats need to be avoided, there are unsaturated fats that promote good health.
Nuts and seeds are perfect for snacking or can be added to any meal. With versatility and a variety of tastes, seeds can be a part of any diet. Plus, one handful delivers benefits for your brain, heart, and your eyes.
Seeds and nuts are high in protein, which is essential for health. They also contain unsaturated fats, which are good fats that you want to consume. Unlike saturated fats, these protect against heart disease and other health conditions.
The benefits of seeds and nuts for the heart and other systems are well known. However, many do not realize that these small foods both support and protect the eyes.
The eyes are constantly at risk for oxidative damage. Metabolites called free radicals are produced naturally in the body. In large quantities, these are dangerous and damage tissues and cells. The eyes have a higher metabolic rate than any other part of the body, which means more free radicals are present. Because vision is one of the most important human senses, it is essential to protect eyes every day.
There are compounds and nutrients present in certain nuts and seeds that are proven to boost eye health and reduce the risk of common eye diseases.
Walnuts contain vitamin E, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which are beneficial for eye health. Free radicals cause oxidation to the tissues in the eye, which increases the risk of cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects the eyes from oxidative damage. The zinc within walnuts is important, as it helps transport vitamin A to the eyes. Vitamin A is another important antioxidant that reduces damage to the eye and prevents disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are also essential for eye health. Walnuts contain more omega-3 fatty acids than any other nut. These compounds protect against inflammation and reduce the risk of dryness.
Along with omega-3 fatty acids, pine nuts contain lutein. This is a potent carotenoid known to provide benefits for the eyes.
Lutein is linked to a reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. In addition to this, lutein also supports blood vessel health in the eyes to ensure they get the oxygen and nourishment they need. As a result, lutein plays a significant role in the maintenance of healthy vision. Without lutein, the risk of disease and vision loss is high.
Pumpkin seeds are packed full of all the right nutrients for good vision. They are a real treat for your eyes. Pumpkin seeds contain vitamins A and C, zinc, and powerful carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.
Vitamins A and C are known to protect against oxidative damage, which reduces the risk of macular degeneration. The high zinc content ensures that vitamin A gets to the eye as needed. Lutein and zeaxanthin are powerful carotenoids that are proven to significantly reduce the risk of eye diseases. Both compounds protect the eyes from blue light and prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.
In cases where disease already exists, these compounds can slow the progression to prevent vision loss.
Today’s reliance on technology has people in front of screens and smartphones for a large portion of each day. This causes dry eyes, eye strain, and increases the risk of blurred vision. Over time, these conditions can contribute to eye disorders, but treatment can prevent this.
Sesame seeds serve to rejuvenate and nourish the eyes. They contain compounds that prevent dry eyes and stimulate the eyes. As a source of nourishment, sesame seeds can keep your eyes strong to reduce the risk of vision impairment.
What better way to boost eye health than with a handful of tasty trail mix. The recipe below combines several beneficial nuts and seeds. But, the best part about trail mix is that you can add whatever you want. And there are no bad nuts or seeds.
This recipe will make 5 cups of trail mix.
2 cups raw pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
1 cup raw sesame seeds
1 cup chopped raw walnuts
1 cup raw pine nuts
1/3 cup Grade B maple syrup (darker, has more flavor)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup dried fruit (one kind or mixed, chopped)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with foil. In a large mixing bowl, toss the pepitas, sesame seeds, walnuts, pine nuts, maple syrup, and salt until evenly coated.
Spread the mixture out, in an even single layer, on the lined baking sheets. Bake the mixture, stirring several times with a spatula or wooden spoon, alternating the sheets on the racks.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the mixture is just golden. Cool mixture completely on the pans, then add your dried fruit of choice and toss to combine.
Store cooled trail mix in an airtight container at room temperature. For travel, pack in cup amounts for an easy go-to snack between meals.
Thoughts and variations:
Change out the nuts or seeds. Exchange slivered almonds, chopped pecans, cashews, or macadamia nuts for walnuts and/or pine nuts. Use hemp or sunflower seeds in exchange for sesame seeds. Get creative with the dried fruit. Try dried cherries, blueberries, pineapple, coconut shavings, etc. Try honey instead of maple syrup. Just have fun being creative!
Nuts and seeds have been part of the human diet since Paleolithic times. As a food and energy source for this long, there must be more than meets the eye.
Health-boosting nutrients are packed into these small foods. History may have told you that carrots are the key to better vision, but it turns out that better vision also comes in small packages. Nuts and seeds are here to stay, so add them to your eye-healthy diet today.