Eating greens is good for your eyes!

Spring weather has arrived and local greens are reappearing in gardens and neighborhood markets all over town. Break out the salad bowl to take advantage the fresh tastes and numerous health benefits of eating local produce!

Kale, spinach and dandelion greens are rich source of two key nutrients for the eye, lutein and zeaxanthin. They are found in high concentrations in the macula where they absorb harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light.  Sunglasses, and blue light coatings on your glasses are the first line of defense against UV damage to your eyes; lutein and zeaxanthin are the last.

Fresh kale in my garden

Research continues to find evidence of the benefits from lutein and zeaxanthin such as:

  • Daily use of nutritional supplements with 10 mg lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin (approx 1/3 cup of kale) corresponds to a reduced risk of progression in patients with moderate signs of macular degeneration.
  • Higher dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin and vitamin E is associated with a reduced need for cataract surgery.
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin improve visual performance in AMD patients, cataract patients and people in good health.

Kale Apple Salad

This recipe is a great way to get lutein and zeaxanthin into your diet (and a hit at parties and potlucks).

  1. Whisk together the following ingredients for dressing.
    • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 ½ Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
    • 1 Tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
    • ½ teaspoon honey
    • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  2. From ½ lb (approx one bunch), pull kale leaves off from the rough stems and compost the stems.
  3. Chop kale into small, less-than-bite-sized pieces.
  4. Toss kale and dressing.
  5. Let marinate an hour or so
  6. Add the following ingredients:
    • ½ cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
    • 1 medium Granny Smith apple, sliced (or other tart apple, or pear)
    • 2 ounces blue cheese (or sharp cheddar cheese)
    • ½ cup toasted hazelnuts (or other toasted nuts)
  7. Serve & Enjoy!
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