There is no getting around the fact that for most of us, Christmas is a lot of work, especially when it comes to planning the Christmas menu! If your goal is a healthy Christmas, to help you out we have put together a list of the top 5 Christmas dishes to boost your eye health.
1. Brussels Sprouts
Love them or hate them, there is no denying brussel sprouts are very nutritious for your entire body, but most especially your eye health. Brussel sprouts are beneficial for your eyes because they are full of lutein and zeaxanthin, which help to reduce the risk for macular degeneration and cataracts. Also, Lutein and zeaxanthin appear to have important antioxidant functions in the body — helping to guard the body against damaging effects of free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can destroy cells and play a role in many diseases.
Additionally, brussel sprouts are packed full of the antioxidant vitamin A. That’s fantastic news for your vision, because Vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) helps to maintain the health of your corneas. It’s also said to lower the risk of vision loss from age-related macular degeneration (a common cause of visual impairment which affects approximately 14% of New Zealanders over the age of 50).
To add some colour to the table, roasted and glazed carrots are the perfect addition to your Christmas feast!
Although carrots may not 'actually' help you see in the dark (despite what your parents once claimed), these bright orange vegetables contain a high dose of vitamin A, making them a fantastic option to boost your eye health. Deficiencies in vitamin A are the leading cause of blindness in the developing world, as a lack of vitamin A can lead to cataracts, macular degeneration and xerophthalmia (a disease which is characterised by dry eyes, swollen eyelids and corneal ulcers).
Carrots also contain lutein, an important antioxidant. Lutein-rich foods, like carrots, are known to increase the density of pigment in the macula, the yellow-shaped oval area in the centre of the retina. As pigment density increases, the retina is more protected and the risk for macular degeneration decreases.
For some, there’ll never be a Christmas centrepiece that can replace turkey. Therefore, if you want to stay traditional this Christmas, you can't go wrong with turkey! Turkey meat is not only an excellent source of lean protein, but it also contains vitamins B3 (niacin), which can help protect your eyes against cataracts and can help to reduce dry eye. Additionally, turkey meat is high in zinc, which is known to help keep the retina of your eye healthy and working properly. Turkey is good a source of this mineral as each 100g contains about 3.00mg of zinc.
Eyes bigger than your stomach? By the end of your Christmas celebrations, if you find that you have over-catered—don't worry, Christmas turkey is great for leftovers which can keep the source of eye-healthy vitamins coming for days.
Your Christmas turkey trimmings will not be not complete without glazed parsnips! As a sweeter alternative to plain old spuds, parsnips are a great option for Christmas day as they are packed with potassium and folate and have an impressively high vitamin C content — all of which are the essential nutrients to help protect against macular degeneration. Also, since parsnips are a good source of immune-boosting vitamin C they are perfect for fending off those Christmas bugs.
5. Smoked Salmon
A delicious luxury, smoked salmon is perfect for Christmas. It makes an ideal starter before the main meal but can also be a very versatile ingredient to have in the fridge ready for any spontaneous Christmas day visitors. Better yet, another reason why you should serve up salmon this Christmas is because it has a high content of omega-3 fatty acids. These protect your eyes by fighting inflammation, helping retinal function, improving visual development and protecting against dry eye.
When buying salmon, keep an eye out for wild-caught salmon instead of farm-raised salmon. This is because farm-raised has more saturated fat and less omega-3s than wild-caught salmon.
Looking for Christmas Stocking Fillers?
Although oranges were the standard Christmas stocking filler during the Great Depression, due to their eye health benefits — we think it's time they made a comeback! As a great alternative to lollies, oranges are a much healthier stocking filler option since they have been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
A new study at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research has shown new hope, as the findings of the study have revealed that people who regularly eat oranges are less likely to develop macular degeneration compared to those who do not eat oranges.
Researchers interviewed more than 2,000 adults aged over 50 and followed them over a 15-year period. The findings showed that people who ate at least one serving of oranges every day had more than a 60% reduced risk of developing late macular degeneration 15 years later.
Walnuts and Brazil Nuts
To bring back old traditions this Christmas, fill the stocking with walnuts and brazil nuts in the shells! Nuts, including walnuts and brazil nuts, have proven to be extremely beneficial to your eye health due to the fact that they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and also contain a high level of vitamin E, which can protect the eye from age-related damage.