This Thanksgiving, A Feast For Our Eyes

Thanksgiving is upon us, and there’s a lot to be excited about. From spending time with your loved ones to decorating your home for the holidays to baking, cooking, and indulging in sweet treats, Thanksgiving kicks off the most magical time of the year for many of us. But this year, you can also make Thanksgiving a time to think about our eye health.

The food options can be overwhelming at Thanksgiving—turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, more pies than you can fit on the table. Some of the food we indulge in on Thanksgiving isn’t so good for us (but it’s the holidays, let it slide), while some of it is great for us (pass the Brussel sprouts, please!). And some of it, believe it or not, is superfood for our eyes.

In May, we rounded up some compelling information from Linda Hardy, LDO, and Sandra Young, OD, that showed how and why nutrition can benefit our eye health. This Thanksgiving, it might be worthwhile to keep their words in mind.

Hardy and Young reminded us that zinc, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene are all important vitamins and minerals when it comes to protecting our eye health—and the good news is that our Thanksgiving staples are chock full of them.

The most famous Thanksgiving dish of all, the turkey, is a perfect example. Meat in general is rich in zinc, and turkey is no exception. According to WebMD, all that zinc is important because it helps bring vitamin A from our liver to our retina. In the retina, that vitamin A makes melanin, the protective pigment in our eyes.

And it’s not just turkey—everyone’s favorite side, sweet potatoes, are just as beneficial. Sweet potatoes (and other orange fruits and veggies like carrots) are high in beta-carotene, another form of vitamin A that helps our eyes see better in the dark. Plus, sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin C—WebMD reports that just one sweet potato has more than half the vitamin C we need in a day.

Of course, greens are great for our eyes, too—collard greens and spinach especially, because they’re so rich in vitamins C and E, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, all of which help lower our risk of eye diseases such as AMD and cataracts. Even squash, a fall staple, is loaded with lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, A, and zinc.

So, as it turns out, your Thanksgiving feast is also an eye health treat. Load up on these essential vitamins and minerals this year, and then enjoy your dessert guilt-free. From all of us at VMAIL Weekend, Happy Thanksgiving!