Veganuary is the buzz word for January with thousands of people across the UK taking on the challenge of avoiding all animal based foods for 1 month. The aim being to prove how delicious plant based foods can be and to also reinforce the animal welfare, health and environmental benefits along the way.
Veganuary is a charity inspiring people to try vegan for January and throughout the rest of the year and more details can be found at https://veganuary.com. You can also follow them via social media on Twitter @WeAreVeganuary.
Picking up on the health benefits of going vegan we thought that we should focus on the plant based foods which are great for eye health. The most common vegetable linked to good eye health is of course the carrot, but there are many more out there which you can try which will give you variety within your diet. Here are 7 of the best.
• Carrots and everything orange! While carrots are, by far, the most well-known food that can boost your eye health, several orange veggies support vision. These includes sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and orange peppers.
These foods are abundant in carotenoids, the compounds that give the veggies their orange colour. One of the most recognised is beta carotene. It’s a precursor of vitamin A which means your body converts it into vitamin A on an as-needed basis. Vitamin A is essential for good vision. Among many other things, it helps protect the surface of the eye (cornea).
• Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach are rich sources of carotenoids which can support the small central part of your eye called the macula. It’s responsible for detailed vision.
• Omega-3s provide structural support to the cells in your eyes. As a result, they help keep your eyes in tip-top shape. Plants rich in these essential fatty acids include flax seed, pumpkin seed, and chia seed, all of which are great sprinkled on a cereal or in a smoothie.
• Tart and tasty, black currants are one of the richest natural sources of anthocyanins on the planet which means they are full of antioxidants to help your eyes stay healthy. Anthocyanins have a long list of benefits including their ability to protect our DNA, regulate a healthy immune system, fight inflammation, and improve cellular health.
• Bilberries and blueberries are both packed with antioxidants. Legend has it that during World War II, Royal Air Force pilots ate lots of bilberry jam enhancing their vision on night time flights. Bilberry is used for improving eyesight, including night vision and for also treating eye conditions such as cataracts and disorders of the retina.
• Almonds are a good source of vitamin E. This fat-soluble vitamin is essential for healthy eyes because it guards our cells against unstable molecules that damage healthy tissue. This means it can protect your eyes from oxidative damage. So it comes as no surprise that getting enough vitamin E can help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
• Citrus fruits are packed with natural vitamin C which is essential for immune function and healthy tissues. Vitamin C helps promote healthy capillaries which are tiny structures that transport nutrients and oxygen to the body’s tissues via our blood. Capillaries are abundant in the eyes so vitamin C is critical for eye health.
So when considering whether Veganuary is for you, not only weigh up the benefits to your overall health, the environment and animal welfare but also consider the benefits to your eyesight. With age related macular degeneration on the increase, packing a few of these top 7 super foods into your diet could help reduce your chances of developing this disease in the future.
For more top tips relating to eye health please follow us on Twitter @WarksVisSupport and on Facebook WarwickshireVisionSupportCharity.