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Nutrients for Great Eye Health

One of the most common maladies that affects us in our old age is compromised vision. Glaucoma, cataracts, and Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) all become much more common once we pass the age of 60. Low vision (or blindness) contributes to reduced mobility, increased depression, and higher risk of accident and falling.

Eye Health

AMD is the foremost cause of blindness and low vision in adults, and with the aging population, it’s becoming more and more common. Unfortunately, there is no cure for AMD as of yet. However, proper nutrition has been shown to slow the progression of AMD, and prevent it from starting in the first place.

What is AMD?
AMD is also known as macular degeneration. When the macula starts to break down, it results in reduced vision right where your eye focuses on specific things. This can be amazingly frustrating, because even when you have 80% visibility in your eyes, you can’t focus in on anything. This makes it impossible for you to read, to focus on the faces of your loved ones, and to see specific tasks in front of you.

AMD comes in two forms; wet and dry. Dry macular degeneration is by far the most common manifestation of the disorder. It’s characterized by spots appearing in the line of sight, believed to be deposits of dead tissue as the macula deteriorates. Wet macular degeneration is usually more severe and swift-moving. This condition causes new blood cells to form, which leak blood and fluid into the eye, causing permanent blind spots that are impossible to cure.

Nutrients to Support Eye Health
AMD is one of the only diseases on record that is treated primarily by nutritional supplements and changes in diet. Although vitamins and minerals can help to prevent and alleviate symptoms of many diseases, AMD has a more powerful link with nutrition than most health problems.

As such, it’s important to understand what you can do nutritionally to prevent your eyes from degenerating as you age. Here are some of the most important nutrients when it comes to eye health, and how you can incorporate into your diet more frequently:

Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Fats have long gotten a bad name in the health food community, but the truth is that certain fats are essential for your body’s proper function. Foremost among the healthy fats are Omega 3 fatty acids. These have an important job in your eye, providing lubrication needed to keep the blood vessels working, flushing out dead tissue, and giving nutrition to cells that need it. Omega-3s are most commonly found in salmon and other coldwater fish, like sardines and tuna. The standard American diet doesn’t usually feature a lot of fish, and so supplements like fish oil or krill oil are available to answer the lack.

Nutrients Support Eye Health

Vitamin A
Vitamin A is an antioxidant that helps protect against many forms of cancer, and boosts the immune system to counter viral and bacterial infections. One of the best sources of Vitamin A is sweet potato. Just half a cup of cooked sweet potato provides four times the daily value. Other great sources are carrots, squash, kale, and red peppers.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the most popular nutrients, because it has such a direct correlation with fighting off colds and other infections. Vitamin C can also have a powerful effect on our mood. And, of course, it can help support eye health. Vitamin C is commonly found in citrus fruits, strawberries, and leafy greens like kale or spinach.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are two of the most important nutrients for developing eyes. For this reason, they’re essential in prenatal vitamins and new baby formula. However, the nutrition is also important for maintaining eye health, as they prevent breakdown that occurs as a side effect of light. The best foods for lutein and zeaxanthin are cooked leafy greens, including collard greens, spinach, and kale.

Vision Boosting Smoothie

Recipe: Vision-Boosting Smoothie
Try this vision-boosting smoothie in the morning for increased eye health and a powerful burst of energy.

  • 1 tsp ground flax seed 
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • ½ frozen banana 
  • ½ Cup fresh spinach 
  • ½ Cup frozen blueberries 
  • 1 Cup almond milk

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Healthy Cook Recipes