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NCHPAD - Building Healthy Inclusive Communities

Food Choices for your Eyes!


Good eye nutrition begins with understanding the vitamins that keep the health of our eyes in 'sight.' Vitamin A, C, and E are the primary contributors for healthy eyes. All three assist in preventing cataracts from forming and play an important role in the prevention of macular degeneration. Vitamin A prevents night blindness, while Vitamin C acts as the protector of eye health. Vitamin C may also prevent and alleviate glaucoma. Some studies have suggested lutein and zeaxanthin also might prevent the development of cataracts. The good news is that all of these wonderful vitamins can be found in food.

Please note if you smoke and/or are a person with diabetes, you might need to increase your intake of Vitamin C, as your levels may be lower than average. If you smoke or drink alcohol, keep in mind that tobacco prevents your body from absorbing vitamin A, and alcohol depletes what you already have in your body. Therefore, you might need to consume more Vitamin A. Your vitamins should come from food sources versus supplements. Additional minerals that are good for your eyes as well include selenium and zinc. Selenium helps your body to absorb Vitamin E, while Zinc helps your body to absorb Vitamin A.

Check with your doctor if a supplement might be a better choice for you. The following are good sources of healthy vitamins for the eyes. Try to eat something with color at every meal.

Vitamin C: Good sources include citrus fruits and juices, papaya, cantaloupe, green and red pepper (sweet), kale, tomato juice (low sodium), Brussels sprouts, strawberries, raspberries, mango, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Vitamin E: Good sources include almonds, sunflower seeds, safflower oil, peanuts, peanut butter, corn oil, mango, and eggs.

Vitamin A (Beta Carotene): Good sources include carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, mangos, squash, apricots, turnip greens, spinach, cantaloupe, red bell peppers, and cod liver oil.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Good sources include spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, carrots, green peas, corn, zucchini, romaine lettuce, and broccoli.

Selenium and Zinc: Oysters contain both selenium and zinc. Additional good sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, yeast, and other seafood. A few good sources of zinc include beef, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, wheat, and nuts.

Shopping and Preparation Tips:

  • Better choices of Vitamin A and C sources are foods that are fresh.
  • Cooked vegetables are a better source of lutein.

Please send your comments and feedback to Valerie Lawson at vlawson@uic.edu.


Healthy Recipe with Eyes in Sight – Chunky Stew with White Beans

1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces whole mushrooms, washed and quartered
2 green bell peppers cut into ¾ inch pieces
1 onion, cut into ¾ inch pieces
2 zucchini, cut in fourths lengthwise and then cut in ¾ inch pieces
2 yellow squash cut the same as the zucchini
3 carrots, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 can low-salt diced tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp Italian seasoning
1/8 tsp dried pepper flakes (optional)
¼ tsp black, ground pepper
1 can reduced-sodium navy beans, rinsed and drained
3 ounces shredded part skim mozzarella cheese (3/4 cup)
1 TBS grated parmesan cheese

  1. In a large soup pot over medium-high heat add oil and tilt the pan to coat the bottom. Add the mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, zucchini, yellow squash and carrots. Cook 8 minutes or until the onions are translucent, stir often.
  2. Add the tomatoes, oregano, Italian seasoning, black pepper and pepper flakes, if using. Reduce the heat, cover tightly and simmer 15 minutes.
  3. Remove pot from heat. Add the beans and let stand covered for 5 minutes. Serve immediately or cool and freeze.
  4. Serve with cheese sprinkled on top.

Makes 4 servings (1 ½ cups per serving)


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