Your parents made you eat your vegetables when you were younger for a reason. Diets that regularly contain a mix of vegetables are linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases.
Vegetables provide nutrients that are essential for health and the maintenance of your body. There are so many vegetables, so it is easy to add them to your diet. The benefits you receive will help your brain, heart, digestion, immunity, and your vision.
You can naturally protect your vision and promote eye health by eating the right vegetables. Vegetables are packed full of beneficial plant compounds that provide antioxidant protection.
Your eyes have a very high metabolic rate that produces free radical molecules as a result. These free radicals cause oxidative damage if they are not removed. The plant compounds in vegetables are powerful antioxidants that scavenge these harmful molecules.
One of the best vegetables for eye health is carrots. Carrots contain several nutrients that specifically work to protect the eyes.
♦ Lutein and zeaxanthin: These are carotenoids that accumulate in the macula of the eye. Without these, this part of the eye is susceptible to damage from light, especially blue light. Maintaining levels of these antioxidant compounds in the eye is essential for preventing diseases like macular degeneration.
♦ Lycopene: This carotenoid provides protection against free radical damage. It works with other carotenoids to ensure blue light cannot damage the inner eye. Lycopene is another beneficial nutrient that prevents macular degeneration.
♦ Beta-carotene: Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A and then transported to the eye. Here, it reduces inflammation and keeps the cornea moist to reduce dryness. Damage to the cornea reduces clarity and can increase the risk of cataracts.
♦ Vitamin C: This vitamin is also an antioxidant linked to reduced risk for macular degeneration. Vitamin C is also a key component of collagen, which makes up several eye structures. By maintaining collagen levels, vitamin C ensures the eye stays healthy. By protecting the lens, it keeps vision clear and prevents cataracts.
Cataracts are the leading cause of surgery in the United States, and macular degeneration causes blindness. It is more important than ever to take care of our eyes. While all vegetables are good for you and will benefit your overall health, if you are looking to specifically improve eyesight or reduce the risk of eye diseases, then the vegetables below are the best place to start.
♦ Spinach contains lutein and zeaxanthin for protection against oxidative damage and to slow the progression of macular degeneration. Spinach also provides vitamin C to keep collagen structures in your eyes healthy.
♦ Kale contains the same carotenoids as spinach, as well as vitamin E. This vitamin is another powerful antioxidant that protects the eyes from oxidative stress.
♦ Tomatoes contain beta-carotene to provide vitamin A for the eyes, lycopene to protect from harmful blue light, and lutein to prevent macular degeneration.
♦ Bell peppers contain vitamin C to protect the lens from cataracts and to fight against free radical damage.
♦ Zucchini contains lutein, zeaxanthin, and additional support against tissue damage, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
♦ Sweet potatoes contain vitamins A and E as well as beta-carotene.
♦ Broccoli provides lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C to protect the eyes from oxidative damage. The less damage from harmful free radicals there is, the lower the risk is for vision loss.
♦ Brussels sprouts give you more lutein and zeaxanthin but with a different taste.
The best part about this recipe is that you can alternate vegetables. Remove what you don’t like, add in your favorites, and switch things up each time you try it.
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/2 pound purple daikon radish, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/2 pound English cucumber, sliced into thin rounds
2 jalapeno peppers, sliced into rings
2 cups of water
1 1/2 cups rice vinegar
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1. Immerse mason jars in simmering water until vegetables are ready. Wash new, unused lids and rings in warm soapy water.
2. Divide carrots, radishes, cucumbers, and jalapeno peppers evenly into the 2 clean jars.
3. Combine water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved about 3 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool for 2 minutes.
4. Pour mixture over the vegetables in the jars and let come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Screw on lids and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.
Protecting your vision is important, as it is one of the most important human senses. Eating a diet rich in vegetables will not only benefit your vision, but it will also play a part in your overall health.
♦ reduced risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. Antioxidants in vegetables prevent oxidative stress, and there are many vegetables that are high in potassium, which naturally lowers blood pressure.
♦ improved digestion because the fiber in vegetables promotes efficient digestion, regular bowel movements, and reduced risk of digestive disorders
♦ protection against certain types of cancers through the powerful phytochemicals found within them
♦ reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, as the fiber in vegetables slows digestion and allows for more gradual absorption of sugar
♦ reduced risk of obesity as the high fiber content of most vegetables keeps you feeling full and less likely to snack on unhealthy foods, and vegetables are also low in calories.
♦ reduced the risk of developing kidney stones and decreased bone loss as a result of eating vegetables high in potassium
♦ increased energy as vegetables are full of essential vitamins and minerals the body needs to function efficiently
From adding color to your meals to providing essential nutrients that fight disease, there are so many reasons to eat vegetables. Of all foods, vegetables have been extensively studied and proven to benefit every aspect of your health.
The natural plant compounds in vegetables can protect and boost health. If you are concerned about your vision, start eating more eye-healthy vegetables, and the benefits will be easy to see.