Parents, often feel overwhelmed by trying to serve healthy meals for their children.
However one of the best things you can do for your children’s eyes is to serve a balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables, but also low in saturated fats and sugar.
Many food groups contain various vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that help preserve their eyes. Vitamins A, C, and E form a fitting acronym (ACE) when it comes to vision.
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 and other nuts
Vitamin E is another essential vitamin for eye health, and almonds, pistachios and walnuts contain significant levels of Vitamin E, which also acts as an antioxidant that helps preserve your kid’s eyesight. 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.
These fruits are rich in vitamin C which can strengthen your kid’s immune system, increasing their resistance to eye infections and other diseases.
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. 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.
Here’s a rundown healthy foods you should be eating – at least three per week from each group.
- Vitamin A:
Carrots, kale, spinach, dairy products, egg yolks
- Vitamin C:
Citrus fruits (especially kiwi fruit) and juices, green peppers, broccoli, potatoes
- Vitamin E:
Eggs, whole grains, vegetable oils, sunflower seeds
Spinach, corn, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts
- Fatty acids:
Coldwater fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and rainbow trout; sunflower oil, corn oil
Meat, poultry, fish, whole grains, dairy products
Along with getting the most from what you eat, you can protect the health of your child’s eyes by getting an eye exam every year. Combining good nutrition with yearly checkups will increase your defense against serious health conditions in the future.