On our last page we talked about the obvious and not so obvious things we can do as we practice good eye health care. We had just begun to talk about the nutrition that we need to have healthy eyes, eyes that are strong and beautiful. We talked about beta carotene, lutein and zeathanthin, fish oil and eye vitamins. If you haven't read it already, visit our page on eye health care.
Now we want to talk about places to get these important things that will contribute to strong, healthy, beautiful eyes.
Let's take a look at some common foods we can eat more of that will protect our eyes and prevent problems in the future, then we will look at herbs that do the same.
Berries. All berries - blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, loganberries, mulberries, cherries and even grapes contain anthocyanins which help lower blood pressure and improve the blood flow to the eye, (as well as the entire cardiovascular system) helping to keep your veins healthy and therefore, prevent macular degeneration. All berries are full of antioxidants which go a long way in helping with your eye health care.
Avocado. Then there is the avocado. It is also full of lutein, as well as beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and vitamin E - all important nutrients for beautiful eyes. So add a little avocado to a meal.
Broccoli. Broccoli is full of beta-carotene, vitamin A, lutein and zeathanthin! It contains anti-inflammatory enzymes that help decrease inflammation in the back of the eye. Brussels sprouts and cabbage do the same.
Carrots. Besides beta-carotene, carrots contain lutein and zeaxanthin. Both are carotenoids which help to prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.
Carrots are an amazing super food that does all sorts of things for us, like help prevent many kinds of cancer and help prevent cardiovascular disease, but that is for another page.
Spinach. For healthy, beautiful eyes, spinach and kale, both superfoods, as well as swiss chard and greens, are full of lutein as well as beta-carotene.
Eat your spinach with a little olive oil (for the fat) or a chopped up hard boiled egg for an extra boost of lutein and omega-3 fatty acids. (see eggs below)
Spinach also contains high levels of calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin D and vitamin K (which is essential for strong bones - but that is for another page).
Eggs. Not only are eggs the most readily available source of lutein and zeaxanthin, but they are full of omega-3 fatty acids. Lutein, which is found in the macula of the eye's retina, seems to filter harmful wavelengths found in both indoor and outdoor light. And because lutein is better absorbed when eaten with a little fat, eggs are perfect - having omega-3 fatty acids.
To really do your beautiful eyes a favor, eat eggs and spinach together. Just add a handful of spinach to your scrambled eggs or omelet. What a great boost toward beautiful eyes.
Fish. Cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and albacore tuna are the best fish to eat for supporting the rods and cones of your eye. The DNA from the long-chair fish oil keeps the eyes from degenerating.
Orange Bell Peppers. Being orange, they also contain zeaxanthin so also help prevent macular degeneration, as well as being loaded with Vitamin A, which helps with night vision. Other orange vegetables are good too, such as pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes, and fruits such as gogi berries, apricots, cantaloupe, etc.
Walnuts. Lastly we will mention walnuts, which are the best nut source of omega-3s with pistachios following in a close second. They are full of antioxidants and vitamin E, which, as mentioned on our last page, help fight inflammation and keep our cardiovascular system strong. They even help reduce inflammation in the body.
Other nuts also work well including pecans and peanuts, almonds and hazelnuts.
Here is a great recipe:
Broccoli and Walnut Stir Fry
In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil until quite hot.
Add the walnuts and saute for 1 minute. Add the broccoli and cook over medium heat, tossing frequently, until tender and crisp, 4 minutes.
Add the soy sauce and cook 1 more minute. Serve immediately, garnished with the bell pepper.
Bilberry (Vaccinium myrillus). There is one outstanding herb in particular that is used in nearly every eye health care formula made. It is the Bilberry. It contains compounds known as anthocyanosides - a potent antioxidant. Of course, this is a berry, and all berries are very high in antioxidants. The anthocyanosides in bilberry strengthen the retina capillaries.
This is the herb that was discovered in WW II to help the British bomber pilots with night vision. They were given bilberry jam before going out on night missions to help them see better. Because it was so successful, many studies have been done and scientists have concluded that bilberry helps strengthen the walls of the blood vessels in the eye and the retine, as well as reducing inflammation.
Eyebright. Eyebright is an herb used as a poultice for redness, swelling, and visual disturbances from conjunctivitis and colds, coughs or sinus infections. To make a poultice, simply make herbal tea, then soak a cloth in the tea, wring it out, and lay it over your eyes. You can also drink eyebright (a different cup please) to help with the conjunctivitis.
Ginko Biloba. This is one of those herbs that has been used forever for eye and centeral nervous system problems. It helps maintain good blood flow to the retina as well as increasing circulation to the back of the eye.
Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis). This is another herb that has powerful antioxidants with a high mineral content. It contains vitamin C. alphahydroxy acid, potassium, copper, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and manganese and studies have shown that it helps protect the retina from ischemic injury from free radicals.
These herbs can all be ordered from Mountain Rose herbs and made into tea, or purchase the tincture and add to water or juice. Rosemary Gladstar shares a recipe for Tea Berry Good as vision food:
Tea Berry Good
Mix together all the ingredients. Brew as a decoction. (See instructions here.) Use 1 Tablespoon of the herb mixture per cup of water, steep for 30 to 60 minutes. Sweeten with honey, if desired. Drink 1 cup daily.
Hopefully, knowing what foods and herbs are important for healthy eyes will inspire us to take good care of our most important sense. Truly, what would we do with out eyesight? When our eyes are healthy, they are beautiful. And who doesn't want beautiful eyes?