The modern digital era means endless hours spent staring at screens — computer, tablet or phone — making eye health a growing area of medical concern.
Approximately 10 million Americans suffer from macular degeneration, and that number is set to rise exponentially in the next few years. Some experts believe that delaying the onset and progression of the condition can be found in a diet rich in eye-healthy nutrients.
A new cookbook, "Eat Right For Your Sight," aims to boost healthy vision with its recipes pairing potent food combinations. Co-authored by medical expert Johanna Seddon, M.D., Sc.M., founding director of the Ophthalmic Epidemiology and Genetics Service at the New England Eye Center, Tufts Medical Center in Boston, and cookbook author Jennifer Trainer Thompson in collaboration with The American Macular Degeneration Foundation, each recipe in the book has been chemically analyzed to ensure the proper combination of eye-healthy nutrients.
"Good food combinations include foods with the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin, and vitamins C, E, and zinc," says Seddon. The doctor cites an example: a salad with baby spinach, walnuts, dried cranberries or mandarin oranges, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, broiled salmon spiced with curry, tarragon or dill and some pepper and lemon slices.
Other eye-healthy food combos include:
Avocado and grapefruit: The vitamins in grapefruit are fat-soluble, so the presence of fat actually helps the body absorb the vitamins.
Broccoli rabe and pine nuts: The fat in the nuts helps the body absorb the nutrients found in broccoli rabe.
Lentils and red pepper: Lentils are iron-rich and need to be paired with Vitamin C to increase the absorption of iron.
Spinach and lemon/orange/tomatoes or strawberries: Vitamin C increases the body's absorption of iron found in plant-based foods like spinach.
According to Seddon, foods rich in nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin (called carotenoids) were first found to reduce risk of advanced macular degeneration in research from 1986 to 1992, published in the Journal of The American Medical Association in 1994.
In the same study, the doctor notes that they discovered for the first time a beneficial association with dietary intake of omega 3 fatty acids, found in fish as well as nuts.
"These results were first reported at the Association for Vision and Research in Ophthalmology meeting in 1994 and later published in the peer-reviewed Ophthalmology journals. A clinical trial of supplements showed beneficial effects of vitamins C, E and zinc."
So, is the secret to stronger, healthier vision found in your kitchen? Try out these food pairings for yourself and see what happens. After all, there's nothing to lose, as a diet abundant in healthy fats and fresh produce has proven time and time again to maintain optimum health.
Photo: Courtesy Jason Houston | Eat Right For Your Sight, © American Macular Degeneration Foundation, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment.