Sunday, July 15, 2012

Protecting Eyes

Forget the supplements that promise eye health. There is more to it than we know! Many antioxidants are linked to eye health, some of which have not even been discovered. Many are still being studied. What we do know, is that what is good for your eyes is good for the rest of you. The best advice by Julie Mares, professor of ophthalmology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, is to eat dark, leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, collards, and Swiss chard. They are "nutritional powerhouses" because they have "gobs of antioxidants," and "something else in leafy greens could explain their link to healthy eyes." Age-related macular degeneration and cataracts is the leading cause of blindness in older people, and a number of studies have found a lower risk of both in people who consume these antioxidant-rich foods. The predominant carotenoids found in both the lens and retina (the area that lets us read fine detail) are lutein and zeaxanthin.
Second on the list is oily fish. Omega-3 supplements may not be the end-all solution, either. There may be other things such as vitamin D and selenium (or both) in fish that contribute to eye health. Other green vegetables such as peas and broccoli may contribute other valuable antioxidants.
Things that contribute to the risk of early cataracts and macular degeneration (besides the obvious excess sunlight and smoking): Refined sugars and starches. High blood glucose and increased blood pressure damage the tiny and fragile vascular system of the eyes. Poor diets usually consist of excess sugars and starches that tend to replace nutrient rich foods, so not only is one adding oxidative stress to vital organs, but missing out on protective nutrients at the same time. That's a double-whammy!
Look here for Lutein
(1/2 cup cooked)                       mg. lutein & zeaxanthin
Kale                                                    11.9
Spinach                                                10.2
Swiss chard                                           9.6
Collards                                                 7.3
Peas (frozen)                                          1.9
Broccoli                                                 1.2
Romaine (raw - 1 C)                              1.1
Brussels sprouts                                     1.0
Zucchinni                                               1.0
Asparagus                                              0.7
Corn                                                       0.6
Green beans                                            0.4
Nectarine (1)                                           0.2
Orange (1)                                               0.2

 ~ U.S.D.A., 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012

Food Label Overload

Sorting through the information on labels can be confusing and misleading, since manufacturers purposely design them that way. The most important number is the calories per serving, and serving size. At the end of the day, watching weight is all about the calories. Budgeting them is an art that is learned over time, so where the calories come from just helps you to budget. So when you need to make an "eat it or skip it" decision, check the data that includes saturated fats next (below 2 grams per serving is best). Unless you know the amount of calories provided by a certain food, you won't know just what you are getting.You may decide to pass on the 70 calories in that tablespoon of chocolate chips!