African Americans are less likely than other ethnic groups to visit the eye doctor regularly. And 24% of us said it had been more than two years since their last eye exam. This trend is particularly disturbing because people of African American descent are at higher risk for the very diseases that comprehensive eye exams with dilation can detect. From a nutritional standpoint, a large-scale research project conducted by the National Eye Institute has shown that there are several nutrients that help protect our eyes.
The most important foods for preventing eye disease are ones that are rich in the antioxidants beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein and zeaxanthin … plus zinc and omega-3 fats. Here’s a rundown of the top 9 picks:
Mom was right! Carrots are loaded with beta carotene, an antioxidant that helps reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. Carrots can easily be added into salads and soups, and are always a great side veggie with lunch or dinner. You can also dip them in just about anything — salsa, hummus, guacamole, peanut butter and low-cal dressings.
2, 3 and 4. Bell peppers, broccoli and brussels sprouts
Three B’s that provide a blast of vitamin C! Vitamin C is another key antioxidant shown specifically to protect the eyes. Steam them, roast them, add to soups and omelets … or, combine all three for a pasta primavera (lightly tossed in olive oil and garlic).