There’s nothing quite like roasted turkey, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. The Thanksgiving table is certainly a symbol of abundance, a meal that nourishes the bond of family and tradition. This meal also has another added bonus: almost every item on the Thanksgiving table is healthy for your eyesight!
Here are several of the most popular Thanksgiving dishes and their corresponding benefits to your eye health:
No Thanksgiving is complete without a turkey, roasted golden brown and stuffed with fresh vegetables and herbs. Turkey is loaded with zinc and B-vitamin niacin, which helps prevent the formation of cataracts. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States, so enjoy that turkey drumstick. You are preventing cataracts with every bite.
Green Bean Casserole
This family favorite may not seem very healthy, but green beans are loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients that protect the retina. Lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the risk of light-induced oxidative damage by blocking blue light from reaching the retina, and this can help prevent macular degeneration, a disease that deteriorates central vision. You can reduce some of the calories and fat in this dish by using low-fat cream soup and cutting the amount of fried onion rings in the recipe.
White potatoes have little nutritional value, but sweet potatoes are full of vitamin A, C and E. A diet that is rich in these vitamins can help prevent or delay the development of cataracts and macular degeneration. Instead of serving a bowl of mashed potatoes at your holiday table, replace it with a bowl of mashed sweet potatoes with a little bit of butter, brown sugar and a hint of cinnamon.
Cranberries contain bioflavonoids, a large class of antioxidants. Bioflavonoids are found in the pulp, skin and rinds of foods that contain vitamin C. Both flavonoids and vitamin C help protect the eyes from free radical damage caused by pollution and the body’s normal metabolic processes. Make sure you make extra cranberry sauce this year so you’ll have some leftovers (Source: VSP).
Pumpkin is one of the best sources of vitamin A, so pumpkin pie is an eye-healthy dessert. In fact, one cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A. Vitamin A provides nourishment and protection to the eye’s macula, lens and cornea and improves night vision. Try this eye-healthy pumpkin pie with walnut olive oil crust.
So make this an eye-healthy Thanksgiving by enjoying your favorite holiday dishes. And don’t forget – another great way to boost your vision health this holiday season is to schedule a comprehensive eye exam for each member of your family. Comprehensive eye exams do more than just protect your vision and fine-tune your prescription; they provide a window into your overall health!