Turkey day is just days away and it’s time to start preparing your stomach for the incoming barrage of seasonal dishes. While many of us fall victim to our eyes being bigger than our bellies on Thanksgiving, smart eaters are focused on something more important: vitamin enriched foods that are beneficial to their vision. You see, studies show that while everyone stands at a high risk of losing some level of eyesight as they age, there are things we can do to reduce our risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
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Knowing what sides to welcome and which to hold back depends on what’s being served. While not every table has the same spread, there are Thanksgiving staples that are sure to be featured at most dinners. Below is a view of what each state favors according to searches from that area gathered by Google Trends.
Healthy diets packed with vitamins, nutrients, and minerals may help prevent eye conditions such as cataracts, dry eyes, and poor night vision. Fill your plate with beneficial foods using our guide to five popular Thanksgiving sides that are as nutritious as they are delicious.
More than a way to count calories, salads with dark, leafy greens (kale, spinach, collard greens) are an exceptional source of vitamins A and C. Vitamin C may help protect against eye disease. Meanwhile, vitamin A is essential to maintaining your eyesight over time, preventing night blindness and vision decline related to age.
Leafy green salads also include the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein — the eye vitamin — helps stave off vision loss in older adults as well as cataracts. Zeaxanthin is a vitamin drawn specifically to your eyes that helps build a protective shield around the eye’s cells to guard them against harmful light sources and free radicals.
For a quick salad that makes the perfect Thanksgiving side dish, in a bowl throw together:
- Chopped Walnuts or Almonds
- A handful of Cranberries
- Thinly sliced Apples
- Your favorite vinaigrette!
Combined, this salad is light and delicious, so you have plenty of room for the main event: Turkey! Not only that, but these ingredients are packed with nutrients to improve eyesight. Cranberries are considered a superfood because they contain a high dose of vitamin C and antioxidants. Apples add a refreshing crisp as well as a healthy dose of antioxidant phytonutrients that assist with healthy eyes. Nuts also contain high amounts of Vitamin E, which if consumed regularly, is known to help prevent age-related macular degeneration as well as cataracts.
Orange fruits and vegetables (carrots, cantaloupes, mangos, and sweet potatoes) are rich in beta carotene. This provitamin A carotenoid can protect you against eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration (AMD) — research has found that high levels of beta carotene can reduce the risk of developing AMD by up to 35%. Beta carotene has also been shown to help improve night vision.
Sweet potatoes, known as yams at some tables, outshine other orange colored fruits and vegetables by also packing half of your daily vitamin C and even some vitamin E in a single spud.
Double down on the healthy duo of lutein and zeaxanthin with a side of squash. Summer squash is further enriched with vitamin C and zinc, while it’s winter counterpart offers vitamins A and C, as well as omega-3 fatty acids.
Zinc is thought to play a role in the formation of visual pigments in the retina. Because of this, having a deficiency can result in night blindness. Omega-3s are foundational to eye retina health. Further, they help lessen the risk of future vision problems including macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of permanent eye damage and vision loss.
For a classic side dish, dice your squash into 1 inch pieces and combine in a bowl with:
- Olive Oil
- Minced Garlic
- Salt and Pepper
Toss the combined mixture in an even layer onto a baking sheet to roast in your oven for about 45-minutes in 400-degree heat. Be sure to plan ahead so you have room in the oven!
Baked, boiled, or pan fried, there’s no wrong way to eat brussel sprouts. Save a spot on your plate for these trendy vegetables, as they provide a star-studded ensemble of nutrients. Brussel sprouts contain vitamins A, C, and E, and even provide a healthy dose of lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta carotene. Each of these antioxidants are capable defenders against free radicals, unstable molecules that break down healthy tissue.
What Thanksgiving meal isn’t complete without a slice of pumpkin pie? While not typically sought out for its health benefits, pumpkin pie provides many of the same vitamins and nutrients found in the sides above. Pumpkin is among the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, and also boasts vitamins C and E — both help protect eyes against free radicals.
What you eat enables how you see. Giving your eyes the right vitamins and minerals to fortify their present and future is key to keeping them healthy. While turkey is the main event of any Thanksgiving meal, the sides should garner your attention. Knowing what you have available and how the food affects your body can help you make the best decisions. Rather than waste space on your plate — and in your tummy — with non-beneficial sides, fill up on food that makes you happy inside and out. This Thanksgiving, don’t just eat with your eyes, eat for your eyes.
We’re Thankful For YOU!
We hope you have a safe holiday season. This year we’re thankful for those that take their eye health seriously. At GUNNAR, we’re dedicated to protecting your eyes. With our line of gaming, computer, and prescription glasses, your eyes will experience reduced eye strain thanks to our advanced lens technology capable of blocking blue light, minimizing glare, and preventing dry eyes.
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