Christmas is a time that we don’t typically associate with healthy eating, with mince pies, advent chocolate and a big Christmas feast all vying for your attention. But while you might be feeling a little full, it doesn’t mean that everything you eat over the festive season will be bad for you.
There are plenty of foods that are particularly popular over Christmas and New Year that are bursting with nutrients that are beneficial to your eye health. While we advise having everything in moderation, Christmas is a time where many of us like to unwind and indulge a little. With that in mind, a spoonful of sprouts here won’t hurt and are a great source of vitamin C, which is so important for maintaining healthy and comfortable eyes.
Here are our top 5 festive foods that will give your eye health a boost:
When you’re going for second helpings, you needn’t feel guilty about an extra bit of turkey. Turkey is one of the healthiest meats you can eat, as it’s very high in zinc. Your body needs zinc to use vitamin A properly, and it leads to the creation of a pigment known as melanin. How much you have when you’re born determines your eye colour, but melanin also protects your eyes from potential UV damage.
Being deficient in zinc also has implications for your eyesight as people with low levels of zinc can have difficulty seeing at night. A zinc deficiency also increases your chances of getting an eye infection, so eating food that’s high in zinc helps to keep your eyes healthy and functioning to their best ability.
Tip: Everyone’s got their own way with a Christmas turkey, so we won’t try to tell you how to do it. Just make sure you save some of the juices for a delicious gravy!
If you’re having turkey, or any kind of roast, for your Christmas dinner, you can’t go without a bit of cranberry sauce. Making your own with fresh ingredients is the best way to ensure you get the nutritional benefit of these delicious berries, and there’s lots to gain.
Cranberries are rich in vitamin C, which is great for stopping any damage from the effect of free radicals. Free radicals are produced by your body to help the metabolic process, but too many left unchecked can be harmful as they destroy cells, including those in your eyes. Vitamin C protects you from these and promotes healthy connective tissue and collagen in your corneas. This then reduces your risk of developing cataracts or AMD.
Tip: For the best sauce, cook cranberries ‘til they pop, but stop before they get mushy. Usually about 10 mins on medium heat should be enough.
It’s probably no surprise to see carrots making this list. We’re sure you’ve been told before that carrots help you to see in the dark. While this isn’t strictly true, they do help to treat a condition known as night-blindness, caused by Vitamin A deficiency.
and protects it from any potential oxygen damage. While getting plenty of oxygen is important for your eye health, you still need the help of antioxidants to manage it and make sure that you avoid any unwanted side effects.
Tip: Quick-steaming carrots is the best method for cooking them to keep their nutritional value. Minimal contact with heat and liquid over the shortest time possible is the best way to ensure they retain all the good stuff!
Smoked salmon is a perfect Christmas treat, delicious for brunch with scrambled eggs or as a perfect canape if you’re entertaining. High in Omega-3 fats, salmon belongs to a group of fish which, as part of a balanced diet, contribute to maintaining healthy and clear vision while reducing the risk of AMD.
The presence of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA also helps to prevent suffering from dry eyes and blepharitis, meaning that eating salmon helps to keep your eyes feeling comfortable as well as maintain clear vision. Salmon is also particularly rich in B vitamins, including niacin, which studies have found reduces the risk of developing cataracts by nearly 50%. So while it isn’t always the cheapest food, you can be sure that you’re getting great nutritional value as well as a delicious flavour!
Tip: If you’re doing a smoked salmon blini for a Christmas party, try stirring in some grated horseradish into mayonnaise to accompany it for an extra little kick.
Love them or hate them, sprouts are a staple of the British Christmas dinner. You might not know, however, that they're fantastic for fighting off the condition known as age-related macular degeneration. This condition can occur gradually as you get older and causes your central vision to deteriorate, leading to blurry vision and even partial blindness.
They’re also full of antioxidants, including Vitamin C, which offers protection against UV light damage, making them a truly great choice for improving your eye’s health. While they might not be everyone’s cup of tea, their benefits certainly make them a great side dish to balance out some of the more indulgent parts of your Christmas meal.
Tip: The smaller the sprout, the more tender and tasty it is, so it’s better to get a whole bunch of little ones rather than going for the bigger, bulkier sprouts.
Whatever you’re eating this Christmas, we hope you have a wonderful time with friends and family. If you do tend to suffer from irritated or dry eyes, particularly at this time of year when the heating is on, we recommend ordering a bottle of everclear eye drops. These soothing eye drops use natural ingredients to give you instant relief and are the perfect size for your pocket or purse.
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