Do you look forward to the green grass, red and yellow tulips and all the other beautiful, blooming colors of spring? In honor of nature’s rebirth and the beauty around us, let’s consider how to maintain healthy vision. April has two national observances for eye health: “Sports Eye Safety Awareness Month” and “Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month.”
Eat healthfully. Protecting your eyes starts with the food on your plate, especially brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Consider your eyes if you plant a garden, and when you write your grocery list or visit a farmers market this summer. Green leafy vegetables (such as spinach, kale), corn, peas, collard greens, orange and yellow bell peppers and egg yolks naturally contain the eye-healthy pigments “zeaxanthin” and “lutein.”
Get regular physical activity. Exercise improves blood circulation and increases oxygen levels to the eyes. Enjoy warmer weather by taking a walk in the morning, during a lunch break or in the evening. Gardening is a form of exercise and a way to grow your own food.
Wear sunglasses. Protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolent (UV) rays when outdoors. Be sure your sunglasses have UV-A and UV-B protection to block both forms of ultraviolent rays.
Take breaks from your “screen.” Staring at your computer, TV or phone screen can cause eyestrain, blurry vision, trouble focusing at a distance, dry eyes, headaches, and neck, back and shoulder pain. Consider these tips:
- Every 20 minutes, rest your eyes by looking 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- At least every two hours, get up and take a 15-minute break to be away from a screen.
Visit your eye doctor regularly.
For more information about nutrition, exercise and your eyes, see www.ndsu.edu/boomers
Try this eye-healthy recipe and plant an eye-healthy garden this spring.
Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
8 c. bite-sized pieces fresh spinach
1/2 c. julienne* strips carrot sticks or jicama**
1/2 c. sliced fresh radishes 2 to 3 medium fresh oranges, peeled, seeded and cut up OR 1 medium mango, diced
Optional: Add protein, such as hard-boiled chopped egg, leftover grilled chicken or beef, and/or canned white beans Optional: strawberries as garnish
Prepare as directed and toss. *“Julienne” refers to food cut into long thin strips, like matchsticks. **Jicama (“Mexican yam” or “Mexican turnip”) is a root vegetable found in the produce section of many grocery stores. It looks somewhat like a potato but it does not brown after cutting.
2 Tbsp. honey 2 Tbsp. white vinegar 1 Tbsp. yellow mustard 2 Tbsp. finely diced onions 2 tsp. poppy seeds 1/4 tsp. salt 1/3 c. canola oil
In tightly covered container, shake all dressing ingredients. In a large bowl, toss dressing and remaining ingredients. Garnish with egg and/or strawberries, if desired.
With 4 eggs and 1 cup strawberries: Makes four servings. Each serving has 360 calories, 25 g fat, 10 g protein, 28 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber and 320 mg sodium.
With 1 cup strawberries as optional ingredient: Makes four servings. Each serving has 290 calories, 20 g fat, 4 g protein, 28 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber and 250 mg sodium.
For more recipes, visit www.ag.ndsu.edu and click on the recipe database, then search for an ingredient such as spinach.