by ROSALIND RYAN, femail.co.uk
Your mother’s advice that carrots can help you see in the dark may have been more than a ploy to get you to eat vegetables.Research has now proved that eating certain foods can improve your eyesight, reverse the signs of optical ageing and keep your eyes in good health.
One of the most common causes of poor sight is a condition called macular degeneration. This condition accounts for 50 per cent of all blindness and sight problems in the UK.
Imagine that your eye is like a camera. There is a lens and an opening at the front that focuses objects onto the retina at the back of your eye. The macula lies in the centre of the retina, which is sensitive to light.
Sometimes the cells of the macula become damaged and you lose the ability to appreciate colours or focus on detailed activities like reading. The condition rarely causes total blindness but can blur your central vision and sometimes make you sensitive to light.
It normally affects those over 60 years old, earning the name age related macular degeneration (ARMD), but a genetic form of the condition can also affect children and young people.
Doctors do not know exactly why the cells of the macular start to fail. One theory is that ARMD is triggered by free-radicals, harmful chemicals that your body picks up from sunlight, the atmosphere and cigarette smoke.
But there are some steps you can take to protect your eyes for the future. Follow our guide to eating your way to better eyesight.
Eat your greens
A recent study by the Florida International University found that eyes containing higher amounts of a nutrient called lutein were up to 80 per cent less likely to be suffering from ARMD.
Lutein protects the eye by forming pigments in the macula. The pigments help with vision by filtering out harmful blue light wavelengths that can damage the eye. The more pigments your eye contains, the less likely it is to fall prey to ARMD.
The Eyecare Trust, a national charity devoted to raising awareness of eye health, says, ‘There is increasing evidence to show that eating vegetables containing lutein is crucial to maintaining pigment density levels in the macula.’ Unfortunately lutein is not generated naturally by the body so you need to make sure you are getting enough from other sources.
These are mainly green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli and kale. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating a teaspoon of green leafy veggies with a small amount of fat raised blood lutein levels by nearly 90 per cent.
You need to eat lutein-rich vegetables for several months before seeing any benefits. But if you get bored of eating spinach, you can take a vitamin supplement to boost your lutein levels. These are available from all major health food stores.
A study published in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science discovered that volunteers taking 10 mg of natural lutein supplements every day for 12 weeks significantly increased the amount of macular pigment in their eyes.
Start crunching on carrots
It is true – eating carrots can help you see in the dark. The essential nutrient responsible is carotene which is turned into vitamin A by the liver.
Vitamin A protects the eyes by helping to absorb the light energy that passes into the eye. Increased levels of vitamin A means
your eyes can absorb more energy and become more sensitive in dim light, helping you see more effectively.Karen Sparrow, spokeswoman for opticians Vision Express, says, ‘Children that are deficient in vitamin A often have dry eyes and in extreme cases can suffer from night ‘blindness’ where they have trouble seeing in the dark.’
Good sources of carotene are carrots, mangoes and cabbage. You can also find it in cod liver oil, milk and eggs.
Another fruit famed for its ability to boost night vision is blueberries. Anecdotal evidence from RAF pilots in World War Two shows they felt their night vision improved after eating blueberries.
The ‘magic’ ingredient in blueberries is a group of compounds called anthocyanosides. These attach to the area of the retina that is responsible for adjusting the eye to see in the dark.
You will need to eat blueberries for more than two months before starting to notice any effects. If they are difficult to get hold of, you can take them in capsule form or tablets, available from good health food shops. Aim to take up to 600 mg every day.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-99368/Can-eat-improve-eyesight.html#ixzz3uisUgsa0
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If you are new to all this what, you may very well ask, are Super Foods?
Well amongst the better known are blueberries, kale and salmon. No doubt you will have heard countless times about the nutritional benefits of these everyday ingredients, commonly labelled “Super Foods.”
There’s no official scientific definition of a Super Food, but it’s generally accepted that Super Foods contain high levels of much-needed vitamins and minerals. They can also be a source of antioxidants, substances that shield our bodies from cell damage and help prevent disease.
While there are a number of common foods that provide these nutrients, there is also an array of more exotic and less mainstream Super foods that are worth getting to know. These include Kefir, Acai, Maca and mangosteens but more about these next week.
Today we are going to focus on one of the best known and loved Super foods the Avocado.
As super foods go, they don’t come much more versatile than the avocado. The soft, creamy consistency and the mild, nutty flavour pair with just about anything, adding a generous portion of healthy fats, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin K and folate to your plate. Delicious at breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snack time, it’s little wonder that avocados are one of the most popular and widely grown fruits around the world.
To celebrate the avocado in all it’s smooth, buttery glory, here’s a list of 16 ways to use them.
1. On their own, with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of Himalayan Salt. An excellent energy boosting snack!
2. Paired with scrambled eggs and bacon for a classic paleo breakfast!
3. With tomatoes: Avocados and tomatoes pair exceptionally well together, and as it turns out, that’s no co-incidence. When paired together, avocados increase the absorption of lycopene, the cancer-preventing antioxidant found in tomatoes. In a study by the University of Ohio, pairing avocado with tomatoes improved lycopene absorption by 400%!
4. Cut into wedges and added to almost any salad
5. Guacamole: Mash two ripe avocados with the juice of half a lime, half a clove crushed garlic, two finely chopped spring onions, one red chilli (optional), salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. Ideal for Mexican dishes, burgers and salads!
6. Added to smoothies for extra creaminess
7. Sliced on top of a home-made chilli
8. Coconut crusted avocado fries. Need we say any more?
9. Added to burgers, along with caramelised onions
10. Paired with grilled chicken and a dash of cayenne pepper
11. Avocado pesto: For a twist on the classic pesto, mash a ripe avocado together with pine nuts, fresh basil, a squeeze of lemon and a little garlic.
12. Halved and topped with a generous splash of hot sauce
13. Raw chocolate making: Believe it or not, avocados are fantastic for making healthy desserts – especially those that involve chocolate! Use them in brownies, chocolate mousse, truffles and cakes to add a wonderful creaminess.
14. Avocado ice cream: Blend an avocado, a frozen banana, 200ml coconut milk and a dash of vanilla extract. Leave in the freezer for 3-4 hours, mixing every hour or so. Allow to thaw slightly before serving, topped with fresh berries!
And they’re not just for eating, either…
15. As a face mask: Great for dry and sensitive complexions, avocado face masks are an excellent way to provide your skin with much needed hydration and nutrients. Avocado oil is used in many of the leading anti-aging moisturisers and treatment lotions – but to save yourself some money, use the whole fruit instead! Our favourite avocado face mask combines three tbsp mashed avocado, one tsp raw honey, and one tsp macadamia oil. Apply to face for 10 – 15 minutes once a week for a serious complexion boost!
16. As a hair mask: Avocado is amazing for dry hair. Combine half a mashed avocado with an egg yolk and a tablespoon of olive oil. Massage into hair from root to tip, then leave to set for 30 minutes before rinsing. When avocado is combined with egg yolk and oil, it acts as a humectant, infusing moisture deep into the hair cells.
How do you use your avocados?
I recently read a “30 Tips” post on Rubies and Radishes that had some great suggestions to make eating Paleo easier.*
But… compulsive editor that I am, I edited it down to what I thought were the best tips for eating Paleo, and add a few helpful items and notes of my own. Here you go!
• When you’re just starting, plan out meals and snacks several days in advance. This keeps you from caving in on busy days. Once you get the hang of cooking and eating Paleo, it will be easier to throw together meals from your well-stocked kitchen.
• If planning all your meals seems overwhelming, try it in phases. Most people don’t need a lot of variety in breakfast, so find one or two Paleo-friendly breakfasts that work for you and get those nailed down. Then find a few lunches that work for you. Then move on to planning dinners.
• Cook meat in bulk; save in easy-to-thaw portions in the freezer. Hamburger, pulled pork, chicken, and your favorite kinds of sausage are all handy to have ready to deploy. You can also cook bacon in big batches and keep it in the fridge. Have you tried cooking it in the oven?
• Dedicate time to prep ingredients every week. Or, if it works better for you, every evening after dinner, prep what you’ll need for tomorrow’s meal(s). Thaw anything that’s frozen. Chop up ingredients. Pre-mix seasonings or sauces.
• Paleo eating and meal planning takes time to adjust to. Give yourself time and grace. Keep at it — it will get easier! It’s only hard until it’s routine.
• Read labels. Learn to recognize sugar in all its disguises. Yeah, it’s overwhelming and kind of depressing at first, but it’s a necessary education.
• Don’t spend too much time trying to figure out how to substitute or recreate the non-Paleo food you once ate. Instead of mourning the loss of food that makes you feel yucky, celebrate new food discoveries that make you feel great! As you stick with this, your taste buds will change and junk food will become less and less appealing.
• Explore Paleo blogs and books. The more Paleo knowledge you have, the easier it is to stick with your new lifestyle!
• When you make dinner, make extra. Enjoy it for breakfast (yes, you can!) or lunch the next day, or pack it in the freezer for an easy future meal.
• One of the hardest things about eating Paleo is the social pressure to eat junk. Always have a plan before going to social gatherings. And focus on how that food is going to make you feel tomorrow! Tell yourself, “When I eat crap, I feel like crap.”
• Eat a satisfying meal before you go to parties so you won’t be tempted by unhealthy choices. Drink plenty of water while you’re there. Focus on enjoying the people, not the food.
• If it’s a pot luck, bring your own Paleo dish (or two), because that might be your only healthy choice!
• Likewise, have a plan for how you’ll eat when meeting friends at restaurants.
• Remember to get the sleep you need every night, and drink plenty of water. And several times a week, if not every day, try to get a little sunshine and gentle exercise.