Parents, do you feel overwhelmed by trying to serve healthy meals on the go? Instead of subjecting your children to daily breakfast bars or the mystery meat in the school cafeteria, feed them some of these tasty foods to nourish their vision and overall health and to start the year off right.
Health Benefits of Eggs
An eye-healthy breakfast starts with eggs. Egg yolks contain lutein, an antioxidant that fortifies the retina and neutralizes harmful free radicals in eye cells. A diet rich in lutein helps prevent age-related macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of vision loss for adults 55 and older. Lutein from eggs is more readily absorbed by the body than lutein from fruits and vegetables, so crack an egg each morning for the kids. For optimum lutein absorption, use coconut oil or olive oil to grease your pan.
Health Benefits of Almonds
Vitamin E is another essential vitamin for eye health, and almonds are an excellent source. Just one handful of almonds has half the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin E, and sliced or chopped almonds add a pleasant texture to an ordinary cup of yogurt or boring bowl of cereal. For an extra antioxidant boost, toss some blueberries on top.
Color and Crunch for Lunch
Kids love foods that have a hearty crunch, and most vegetables and fruits fit into this category. Carrots, orange and yellow bell peppers and sweet potato chips are just a few crunchy items you can add to your children’s lunchbox. Orange and yellow vegetables are full of beta-carotene, an essential antioxidant that is necessary for healthy skin and eyes.
Vitamin C is also an eye-friendly antioxidant. A diet rich in vitamin C prevents cataracts, a disease that progressively degenerates the eye lens. Much of the damage that causes cataracts is from sun damage that occurs during childhood and young adulthood, so kids need lots of vitamin C. Pack kiwi, strawberries, citrus fruits and broccoli to counteract free radicals in UV rays and environmental toxins.
Go Green for Dinner
Dark, leafy greens are full of vitamin A that protects the cornea, the transparent dome on the surface of the eyes. Salad may not be your children’s first choice for dinner, but you have endless possibilities when it comes to fresh produce. Top your leafy greens with fresh vegetables, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, cheese, grilled chicken, roasted salmon and baked fish, and dress your salad with eye-nourishing olive oil with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Try to eat leafy greens raw because the cooking process decreases their nutritional value.
Eating a variety of leafy greens like spinach, kale, Swiss chard, arugula and red leaf lettuce keeps the eyes lubricated and prevents dry eye, a chronic condition that affects over 16 million Americans. Children can develop dry eye, especially during winter months, and it can be distracting and painful. Dinner salads are a smart way to introduce children to new foods because ingredients are cut into small pieces, so get creative and have fun.
Browse the Your Sight Matters website for hundreds of eye-healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinners, snacks and desserts. Your kids may even want to help you create a weekly meal plan and assist with the cooking.
See Your Ophthalmologist
As school begins, schedule comprehensive eye exams for the entire family. Your ophthalmologist will evaluate everyone’s current prescriptions and screen for eye disease. If you would like to find a board-certified ophthalmologist in your area, click here and enter your zip code.