Keep an Eye on These Nutrients

dark, leafy greens

August is National Eye Exam Month—a good reminder for us to get an eye exam! A simple checkup can reduce your risk of glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and cataracts. Researchers have linked these nutrients to improved vision and overall eye health: lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and omega-3 oils.

Dark, leafy green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and broccoli, are good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients protect eyes from sun damage. Eating them with olive oil helps our body absorb these nutrients.

Beta-carotene is found in deep orange and dark green vegetables, such as carrots, butternut squash, spinach, and collard greens. It helps prevent dry eyes and night blindness.

Vitamin C may help lower your risk of cataracts. Vitamin C is found in citrus foods, but also in sweet bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and cantaloupe.

Healthy fats such as omega-3s may be beneficial for eye health. Salmon and trout are good sources of omega-3s. Include fish in your meal plan two to three times each week.

Sources: Eat Right, eatright.org. American Optometric Association, www.aoa.org.

Sweet Potatoes: Not Just for Thanksgiving!

Baked sweet potato

November is Sweet Potato Awareness Month! Sweet potatoes are often a part of Thanksgiving dinner, but why not enjoy them all winter long? These nutritious tubers are very versatile.

Sweet potatoes come in a variety of colors, including orange, white, and purple. Orange and purple sweet potatoes are high in antioxidants, which help fght infammation and may protect against cancer. All sweet potatoes give you vitamins A and C, fber, and potassium.

One cup of cooked sweet potato with skin provides 6.6 g of fber, about one-fourth of your daily fber recommendation. The fber in sweet potatoes feeds the “good gut bugs” that are important for gut health and keep you regular. The vitamin A prevents vision loss and improves eye health. The vitamin C promotes healthy skin, helps heals wounds, and enhances immune function. Potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure.

You can enjoy sweet potatoes in many ways—mashed, grilled, steamed, microwaved, even in pancakes. Try today’s Sweet Potato Fries recipe!

Source: Produce for Better Health Foundation, fruitsandveggies.org

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