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Healthy Foods

This new cookbook can help save your eyesight

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Eat Right for Your Sight is a new cookbook that helps maintain eye health and prevent age-related macular degeneration.

Remember your grandmother telling you to eat your carrots because they’re good for your eyes?

It turns out that it’s not just carrots; it’s fatty fish, green leafy vegetables nuts and seeds.

“Eat three colors a day,” said Jennifer Trainer Thompson, co-author of Eat Right for Your Sight.The darker the better.”

The James Beard Award-nominated author teamed with the American Macular Degeneration Foundation and. Johanna Seddon, associate professor of ophthalmology at Harvard University, to create recipes that prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD) -- the most common cause of irreversible vision loss.

“That’s the beauty of it.  It’s good for overall healthy eating, but also great for eye health.”

Macular degeneration is a retina disorder that deteriorates vision needed for reading, driving a car or recognizing faces. Dame Judi Dench, 80, suffers from AMD and did other famous writers and artists such as Georgia O'Keefe. And studies show that 1 out of 4 baby boomers may lose their central vision due to AMD.

But there's good news. Eating the right foods can slow the progress or even prevent the disease.

Among the antioxidants, nutrition and vitamins needed to maintain good eye health are vitamin A (found in carrots and squash); vitamin C (found in citrus and broccoli); vitamin E (found in almonds and sunflower seeds); folate, B6 and B12 (found in salmon, legumes and dark leafy greens); and lutein and zeaxanthin (found in avocado,corn, bell peppers and egg yolks).

Trainer Thompson worked with Seddon to incorporate these foods into easy-to-use recipes.

“For me it was fun because I like colorful food.  My cookbooks are known for not being complicated, for being fresh,” Trainer Thompson says. “This book is a guide for how to make these foods more accessible.”

Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash and Cranberry Salad

For example, spinach is high in lutein and found to reduce the risk of AMD by as much as 43 percent.  So she created a spinach salad, and added citrus to aid in the absorption of iron, which is also found in the green leafy vegetable.

She also combines lutein-rich avocado with pink grapefruit, high in the carotenoid lycopene, which has been proven to prevent eye damage. 

Studies show that three servings of fish a week could reduce macular degeneration risk by 40 percent.  So she created a smoked mackerel dip that is a great and delicious way to get the needed omega 3 fatty acid.

These combinations were not created on the fly, says Trainer Thompson. They did a chemical analysis of each dish as they developed the recipes, and if there was, say, too much salt, they looked for substitutes, like thyme.  Each recipe comes with a box breaking down the nutrients and vitamins and every headnote gives you a road map for substitutes.

Recipe:Chicken with Mushrooms and Thyme

Also the font size in the cookbook is slightly bigger, for those already finding it difficult to see.

Trainer Thompson says the cookbook makes trying to squeeze so many different fruits and veggies into your daily diet simple.

“That’s the beauty of it.  It’s good for overall healthy eating, but also great for eye health.”