When we think about our health and fitness, it can be very easy to focus on our external appearance. Whether we want to develop muscle, slim down or get strong, we can dedicate hours every week to how our bodies look, without paying much heed to their overall strength, health and condition.
Our eyes are one aspect of our bodies that many of us take for granted. We rarely think about protecting our peepers from UV damage with sunglasses – unless we're wearing them as a fashion statement. Even more rarely do we think about protecting our eyes with the right nutrients.
Yet nutrition plays a huge role in the health of our eyes. Given just how precious our eyesight is, it's high time we paid as much attention to our eyes as we do to our muscles and curves by giving them a health kick with an eyesight-friendly diet.
To help you look after your eyes, we've compiled five of the best ocular health-boosting ingredients and some delicious ways you can incorporate them into your diet. If you'd like to know more about the science behind lutein, zeaxanthin and eye health, take a peek at this informative infographic.
Let's get cooking!
Cooked kale contains 18.3mg of lutein and zeaxanthin, making this leafy green one of the most powerful foods in your fight for healthier, happier eyes. We love kale mixed with East Asian flavours, as the plant's strong taste and texture can sustain equally strong flavours. Why not cook up some stir fried curly kale with chilli and garlic as a tasty, healthy side or this amazing ramen with kale and barbecue mushrooms?
Raw cress packs in an impressive 12.5mg of lutein and zeaxanthin, making it a great addition to salads and sandwiches. Create a quick, raw and tasty cress and golden beet salad or get a little fruitier with a fig, cantaloupe and watercress salad with creamy garlic lime dressing.
- Raw Spinach
You'll find an equally hefty 12.2mg of the good stuff (lutein and zeaxanthin, that is!) in spinach. Enjoy this green staple raw in salads and sandwiches to get the maximum benefit from this tasty leaf. Spinach is wonderfully versatile, which means you can pretty much toss this eye health-boosting ingredient into anything. For a bit of inspiration, however, why not throw together a tongue-tantalising spinach and strawberry salad with feta (trust us, it's great) or whizz up spinach smoothie before your next workout.
- Cooked Spinach
If raw spinach isn't for you, cooked spinach is the next best thing for your eyesight, with 11.3mg of lutein and zeaxanthin. For some Mediterranean flavour, cook up a big batch in a yummy Greek spanakopita, or this flavourful fenugreek and garlic infused spinach curry.
They may be lower in lutein and zeaxanthin than spinach, but the 2.6mg of eye-friendly goodness in peas still makes them a worthwhile ingredient. Mint and pea soup is an easy, yummy classic you can bottle up in a thermos and take to work, while tasty parcelled up pea pastries like pea kachori are a fun culinary adventure for those who love to cook!
Do you take steps to look after and preserve your eyesight? Do you have any great kale, watercress or spinach recipes? Share your tips with other readers below.