As kids, our parents would never fail to remind us to eat all the vegetables on the plate. This is because vegetables are critical to a healthy body. It is true as a basic nutrient for our cells to the very organs that we use every day. One pair of organs that can particularly benefit from eating vegetables are our eyes. Different kinds of vegetables offer several nutrients that can help with maintaining good eyesight. There are also thousands of ways to prepare these vegetables. In this article, we will explore vegetarian dishes that may benefit our eyes. We will also try to understand why exactly they are beneficial.
Throughout the discussion, we will be using a 2020 review article from the International Journal of Medical and Biomedical Studies. It provides an overview of eye diseases and how certain substances can help maintain our eyes.
Vegetables as The Key to Maintaining Eyesight
Our eyes are vulnerable to different stressors that the body can accumulate over our lifetime. Particularly, these stressors can produce harmful reactive oxygen species that damage our eyes. Factors that can contribute to this include the following:
- The natural tendency of the eyes to consume high amounts of oxygen
- Exceedingly high consumption of polyunsaturated fats
- Intense exposure to high-energy visible light (blue to violet light)
Nutrients from vegetables can help maintain eyesight by affecting these factors in one way or another. Most of the time, these nutrients work together to perform functions that our body needs. The effects of these nutrients include photoprotection, improved light collection, and biological mechanisms against vision loss. In looking into each of these specific nutrients, we will turn to vegetarian dishes and their ingredients.
Dishes That Can Benefit Our Eyes
The dishes we will present contain nutrients such as carotenoids, zeaxanthin, lutein, and vitamin A. These ingredients include vegetables such as chickpeas, lemon, carrots, squash, and broccoli. Here are some sample dishes that you can add to your meals.
Starting with a simple one, we have the humble chickpea gyros. If you have pita bread and canned chickpeas, you can make this any time. Simply add some seasonings, such as salt, pepper, and paprika. Put on some lettuce, onions, and tomatoes, then you’re good to go. You can even toast the bread and chickpeas if you want some added crispness and aroma.
Chickpeas and other legumes, such as beans and lentils, contain bioflavonoids that can protect against cataracts. It also contains zinc and vitamin A that work together to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and dry eyes. If you put some lettuce in your gyros, it can also provide some added vitamin A.
Zinc and vitamin A work together with the former allowing the latter to move from the liver to the eyes. Vitamin A produces melanin that protects the eyes from ultraviolet light. This is why a person with a zinc deficiency may also have a deficiency in vitamin A.
If you want double the nutrients in one dish, try the teriyaki chickpea and broccoli bowl. The stars of the dish are the plain but nutritious rice, chickpeas, and broccoli. Heat them up, and assemble in a bowl. Pour over some homemade or store-bought teriyaki sauce, then sprinkle some sesame seeds, and you’re done.
In addition to the benefits of chickpeas, broccolis can also help maintain your eyes. Broccoli is already a powerhouse in terms of nutritional benefits. Regarding eyesight, the vitamin A and zinc from chickpeas can work with the beta-carotene from broccoli to reduce the risk of macular degeneration. Additionally, broccoli contains zeaxanthin and lutein that synergize with other nutrients to prevent the risk of vision loss.
The synergy between zeaxanthin and lutein can help as antioxidants that remove harmful free radicals in the eyes. Additionally, it can protect our eyes from high-energy visible light. The pigment of the macula of the eye benefits from zeaxanthin and lutein.
Butternut Squash Soup
This next one can be a great side dish, especially during cold seasons. You can elevate a simple hot and creamy butternut squash using fresh herbs such as sage and rosemary. Add in some onions, vegetable broth, and extra virgin olive oil to deepen that savory flavor. Finally, adjust the taste using salt and pepper. Now you have some warm and comforting food perfect for fall and winter.
Color and pigment are largely important for our eyes. They aid in protecting the retinas from intense light. We can get these pigments in orange-colored vegetables. If you were to eat all of the previously discussed dishes, you would get zinc, vitamin C, and beta-carotene from chickpeas and butternut squash. All these three nutrients can work together to reduce the risk of macular degeneration progression.
If you want your own customizable set of nutritious ingredients in a delectable meal, pizza is the way to go. While there are rules to which ingredients go with a certain flavor profile, it doesn’t hurt to experiment. On a vegetarian bread mix, you can start with some kale and broccolis as your main ingredients. Slap on some garlic, onions, oregano, and black pepper to taste. You can just combine anything you think will taste good together.
If you were to add the ingredients for the pizza mentioned above, broccoli can help reduce the risks of eye problems. At the same time, kale and other green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, also contain zeaxanthin and lutein. This adds to what the broccoli already contains. This ultimately aids in preventing the risks of vision loss.
Of course, no meal is complete without a dessert. To this, we offer a zesty lemon carrot cake. This is slightly more complex with all the substitutions to be vegetarian. Fundamentally, it’s a cake recipe that uses carrots and lemons with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg for that nutty fragrance.
As previously mentioned, orange-colored vegetables like carrots and butternut squash contain pigments essential for the eyes. In addition, citrus fruits such as lemon contain rich amounts of vitamin C that synergize with beta-carotene to reduce the risk of macular degeneration.