We have always been told about how specific foods perform certain functions for the body. For instance, milk strengthens the bones, oranges drive away cold and cough, turmeric acts as an antiseptic, and carrots help with clear vision. However, there’s more to be done for your eyesight than just eating carrots.
Nutrients vital for healthy eyes are predominantly vitamin A, E and riboflavin (B2). The more brightly coloured a vegetable the more its health benefits, thanks to a rich assortment of plant compounds known as phytochemicals.
These phytochemicals, found in lettuce, carrots, beetroot and bell peppers, help deal with substances called free radicals which damage body cells, tissues and DNA. And damage caused by oxidation may lead to such health problems as cancer, heart disease and cataracts.
Most nutrients are present in colourful fruits and vegetables, so eat it if it’s visually appealing. The way to healthy eyes maybe through your stomach.
Safeguarding the eyes
It is a low-calorie food packed with magnesium, lutein and vitamins A and B complex. Lutein shields the eyes from free radicals that accelerate age-related damage. Being a rich source of vitamin A, it also helps see objects in dim light.
French beans not only help build muscles, they also light up your eyes. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, protein and manganese. Besides protecting the eye, vitamin C helps heal infections.
Even half a carrot is enough to fulfill a day’s requirement of vitamin A. It prevents cataract and protects the eyes from blindness associated with macular degeneration.
Bell peppers (all colours) are an excellent source of zeaxanthin and vitamin C. A lack of these nutrients can put the macula, the screen on which the images captured by the eye are focussed, at risk. So a decent supply of these antioxidants will ensure good vision till old age.
Among all the vitamin E rich nuts and oilseeds, sunflower seeds are rated the best. Even two tbsp of these seeds fulfills more than a day’s requirement of vitamin E.
A salad for the eyes
Remember that coloured fruits and vegetables work better than supplements as they contain anthocyanosides. And the darker the fruit, the more anthocyanosides it contains.
Here’s a healthy salad for you to make — it really packs in a punch for good vision and healthy eyes.
One cup of shredded iceberg lettuce
Two French beans
Half a carrot
Half a beetroot
¼ cup of diced cucumber
¼ cup of diced radish
One cup of diced bell pepper (red, yellow and green)
2 tbsp of sunflower seeds
1 tsp of chopped garlic
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp of kasundi (paste of ground mustard seeds)
Salt to taste
Place the shredded lettuce in ice cold water for half an hour. Parboil the French beans, carrot and beetroot for two minutes and refresh in ice cold water. After half-an-hour, dice the French beans, carrot and beetroot. Mix the vegetables in a bowl and refrigerate.
Before serving, mix the kasundi, balsamic vinegar, salt, garlic and olive oil in a bowl and pour over the salad vegetables. Serve cold.
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre