It is no secret that spinach is a superfood. The leafy green is packed full of nutrients and valuable compounds to boost and protect your health.
Spinach has been a staple in the Mediterranean diet for centuries, which is known to be one of the healthiest diets in the world. You may be aware of the benefits to your brain, heart, skin, and bones, but spinach is also a beneficial asset for improving and protecting your vision.
The host of nutrients and antioxidant plant compounds in spinach have been proven to provide several benefits.
♦ Protecting the heart from oxidative damage
♦ Lowering blood pressure
♦ Supporting diabetes management
♦ Improving digestion
♦ Preventing certain cancers
♦ Improving bone density and strength
♦ Maintaining collagen production for healthy skin and hair
As if this was not enough already, these same nutrients and compounds also protect your eyes and promote healthy vision. 80 percent of what we perceive comes from our sight, so vision is an important sense.
Regular eye exams can detect problems early, but preventative measures can be done to reduce the risk of any vision loss or eye diseases. The easiest way to do this is through diet, and spinach has plenty of support.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
These are powerful carotenoids proven to have a beneficial impact on macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is an irreversible condition that can lead to blindness. A diet rich in lutein and zeaxanthin has been proven to reduce the risk of developing this condition.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that protect the retina and macula from the damage caused by free radicals. Specifically, they ensure that the thickness of the macula is intact. A thicker macula can withstand harmful light better than a thinner macula. They also can slow the progression of the disease and prevent vision loss.
Glutathione is a natural antioxidant. This can be produced in your body with the help of sulfur from your diet, or directly by consuming spinach. Glutathione is a protein linked to the prevention of cataracts, glaucoma, retinal disease, and diabetic retinopathy.
This protein helps to maintain the transparency of the lens and detoxifies the aqueous fluid in the inner eye to maintain fluid outflow. Fluid buildup increases the pressure within the eye, which then leads to glaucoma.
Zinc can be found in spinach and is a supportive mineral for eye health. It is a helper molecule that transports vitamin A to the eyes. Once there, the vitamin can be used to produce melanin, a protective pigment.
Zinc deficiency has been linked to impaired vision, poor night vision, and cataracts.
Vitamins C and E are both antioxidants. Both work to protect the eye from oxidative damage. Maintained levels of these vitamins are important because the eyes are exposed to more free radicals than other parts of the body.
Free radicals are byproducts of metabolic processes, and the eye has one of the highest metabolic rates. Vitamins A and C have both been linked to a reduced risk of cataracts. Vitamin C also increases collagen production, which is an essential component of the cornea.
Beta-carotene is a carotenoid that is converted into vitamin A in the body. The benefit of beta-carotene is that your body will only convert what is needed.
Vitamin A is essential to eye health, but too much vitamin A can be toxic. Consuming foods with beta-carotene is a natural way to get the vitamin A your eyes need without the risk of getting too much.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are important in the development of the eye and help maintain healthy blood pressure. These compounds help to promote intraocular drainage to prevent pressure buildup in the eye. In this way, omega-3s can protect against glaucoma.
The healing nature of omega-3s also helps to reduce dryness. Studies found that regular omega-3 fatty acid intake is linked to a reduced risk of macular degeneration. This is believed to be a result of the protection omega-3s provide against inflammation and oxidative damage.
Spinach doesn’t have to prove itself when it comes to benefiting health. Studies have shown the power of the plant compounds and nutrients in this leafy green.
Beyond its health value, spinach is a versatile food perfect for any recipe. Boosting eye health never tasted so good.
12 ounces fresh spinach
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, or low-fat cottage cheese
½ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
2 large eggs, beaten
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and pulse the spinach in a food processor in three batches until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add ricotta (or cottage cheese), Parmesan, eggs, garlic, salt, and pepper; stir to combine.
2. Coat 8 cups of a muffin pan with cooking spray. Divide the spinach mixture among the 8 cups. Bake the spinach cakes until set, about 20 minutes. Let stand in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and turn out onto a clean cutting board or large plate.
3. Serve warm, sprinkled with more Parmesan if desired.
Garlic is a small part of this recipe, but it provides an excellent benefit for eye health. The sulfur in garlic is an important part of the production of a protein called glutathione. Glutathione acts as a powerful antioxidant that protects the lens of your eyes and can prevent cataracts.
Egg yolks contain several important eye health nutrients. Vitamin A protects the cornea, which is the outer surface of the eye. Zinc helps to get vitamin A to the retina to produce the protective pigment melanin. Egg yolks also contain high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, two of the best antioxidants for eye health.
Spinach is low in calories and high in nutritional value. The super green is versatile and can be added to any meal, including breakfast smoothies.
With all that spinach has to offer, there is no reason to leave it at the store. Add spinach to your daily diet. Reduce oxidative stress, protect your heart, and improve your vision with every bite. It won’t be long before you see the benefits for yourself.