Caring for Our Eyes with Good Nutrition

Most people would agree…we are very dependant on our eyesight. Therefore, taking care of our eyes is extremely important.  One crucial part of caring for eyes is through a comprehensive dilated eye exam.  When we are out in the community talking to people about eye care, it’s amazing how often we hear, “I see fine, I don’t need to go to an eye doctor.”  A comprehensive dilated eye exam at Heritage Eye, Skin and Laser Center gives our doctors the opportunity to look at all parts of your eyes and oftentimes diagnose treatable eye conditions or health related issues before they cause loss of vision.  If it’s time for your annual eye exam, call our office at (209) 465-5933.

Another way to care for our eyes is through good nutrition.  There’s an old saying that still stands true, “We are what we eat.”  But the truth is, most Americans don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables and other nutrient-rich foods, and they opt instead for high-calorie, low-nutrient alternatives that can be harmful to the body, including the eyes.  So what foods are best for good eye health? 

In general, we should eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables, two servings of fish per week, some nuts, and some yellow or orange fruits and vegetables. 

Specific foods and vitamins that promote healthy eyes include:

  • Foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars
  • Vitamin A: cod liver oil, liver, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash.
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin: spinach, kale, collard greens.
  • Vitamin C: sweet peppers (red or green), kale, strawberries, broccoli, oranges, cantaloupe.
  • Bioflavonoid: citrus fruits, cherries, grapes, plums.
  • Vitamin E: sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts.
  • Selenium: brazil nuts, yeast, seafood.
  • Zinc: oysters, hamburgers, wheat, nuts.
  • Antioxidants:  Research suggests that antioxidants reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.  Specific antioxidants can have additional benefits as well; for example, vitamin A protects against blindness, and vitamin C may play a role in preventing or alleviating glaucoma.
  • Essential Fatty Acids: Essential fatty acids (found in cold- water fish such as
    salmon, mackerel, and trout, as well as flax seed oil and fish oil) appear to
    help the eye in a variety of ways, from alleviating symptoms of dry eye
    syndrome to guarding against macular damage.

What about carbohydrates? In July 2007, study findings suggested that eating too many “bad carbs” such as refined white flour may increase your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. The idea is that blood sugar spikes caused by such high glycemic index carbohydrates could negatively affect the eyes. Researchers suggested that people instead consume healthier carbs, such as high-fiber fruits and vegetables.

What about vitamins?  Taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement can help fill in the nutritional gaps in a less-than-optimal diet and may help protect you from degenerative diseases, including eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts.

Research shows that 30 million (or one out of four) Americans age 40 and older suffer from some level of vision loss. Therefore, it’s a good idea to eat a diet with a variety of foods loaded with key nutrients for maintaining and improving eye health. At the end of this blog you’ll find several recipes that use foods that are good for your eyes and every one is absolutely delicious! Plus they use common ingredients, and are quick and easy to make.  If you’d like to submit a favorite “healthy eyes” recipe, we’d love to hear from you.

We’re looking forward to helping you See, Look and Feel Your Very Best!

Your Friends at Heritage Eye Skin and Laser Center

Recipes for Healthy Eyes

Main Dishes:

Citrus Chicken Salad


1/2 c. orange juice
1/4 c. lime juice
2 shallots, diced
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 pound frozen skinless boneless chicken breasts, thawed
8 c. chopped romaine lettuce
1 (15 oz) can mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 c. red onion slices
1/4 c. almond slices

In a small bowl, whisk together juices, shallots, chili powder, cumin, sugar, and garlic powder.

Pour half of this mixture into a large, resealable bag. Add the chicken breasts. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Refrigerate the remaining half of dressing.

Remove chicken breasts from marinade. Discard marinade. Broil chicken breasts on HIGH for 4 minutes. Turn. Broil an additional 3 to 4 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Slice into thin slices.

Meanwhile, gently toss together remaining dressing, lettuce, oranges, onion and almonds. Top with chicken.

Daily nutritional values:
8% vitamin A
120% vitamin C
10% calcium
15% iron

Nutrition information per serving:
Calories: 310
Carbohydrate: 39g
Cholesterol: 65mg
Dietary Fiber: 4g
Fat: 5g
Protein: 30g
Saturated Fat: 0.5g
Sodium: 105mg
Sugar: 33g

Individual Broccoli Quiche


       1 cup rolled oats

       1 cup whole wheat flour

       ¼ teaspoon sea salt

       1/3 cup lite silken tofu, firm

       1 tablespoon brown rice syrup

       ¼ cup ice water

       1 teaspoon olive oil

       3 cloves garlic, minced

       1/3 cup chopped red onion

       ¼ cup chopped green bell pepper

       2 cups broccoli florettes, cut to bite size pieces

       1/3 cup dry sherry

       3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

       ¼ teaspoon turmeric


Preheat oven to 400° F.

Place oats, flour and salt in food processor; pulse to mix. Add tofu and process. Add oil and rice syrup and blend. With the machine running, drizzle ice water through feeding tube. Process just until the dough begins to form a ball.

Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead the dough for two minutes.

Divide pastry into 6 equal pieces and roll out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick.

Press each into a 4-inch tart pan and set aside.

Warm oil over medium high heat in a 10″ frying pan for 1 minute. Add garlic, onions and bell pepper and saute 3 minutes.

Add broccoli, cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside. Place tofu in food processor and blend until smooth.

Place sherry in a small bowl, add miso and blend with a fork until smooth. Add to the tofu with potato flakes, yeast, turmeric, soymilk and lemon juice. Process thoroughly.

Fold tofu mixture into broccoli mixture and spoon into each pastry lined pan.

Place the quiche on a baking sheet and bake on center rack of the oven 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Smoked Salmon Pizza with Dill & Lemon

Especially rich in: eye-healthy omega-3s DHA and EPA.

Also rich in: iron


       Cooking spray

       2/3 cup fat-free sour cream

       3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

       2 teaspoons lemon zest

       1 clove garlic, minced

       Pinch of red pepper flakes

       Black pepper

       1 13.8 ounce can refrigerated pizza crust (such as Pillsbury Pizza Crust Classic)

       1 cup thinly sliced red onion

       6 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon

       1/4 cup peeled and thinly sliced cucumber


Coat a pizza pan or cookie sheet with cooking spray. Set aside. Heat oven to 425°F.

In a small bowl, thoroughly mix first 6 ingredients (sour cream through pepper). Set aside to let flavors blend.

Remove pizza dough from tube. Knead until smooth, roll into a ball, and spread on a round pizza pan or cookie sheet until 12″ round in diameter.

Sprinkle onion evenly over top and bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool.

Spread sour cream mixture over pizza crust, top with salmon and cucumbers.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional Information (per serving):

221 Calories; 13% fat (3.2 g total, < 1 g saturated), 65% carbohydrate (33.7 g), 22% protein (12.2 g), 6.5 mg cholesterol, 1.7g fiber, 6.5 mg vitamin C, 0.5 mg vitamin E, 1,057 mg sodium.

Seared Tuna with Orange, Avacado, and Cilantro Salsa

Especially rich in:  lutein/zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, and omega-3s
Also rich in:  fiber, iron, magnesium, and potassium


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 four-ounce tuna steaks (preferably sushi grade)
  • 1/3 cup red onion, minced
  • 2 oranges, peeled with all pith removed, and cubed
  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of one lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Blend olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice in a shallow pan. Add tuna, turn to coat evenly, cover and marinate for up to 1 hour.

In a medium bowl, blend onion, oranges, avocado, cilantro, lime juice, and salt &  pepper.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

Place steaks in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook 2 minutes per side for medium rare (3 to 4 minutes per side for well done).  Serve with salsa spooned over top.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional Information (per serving):  304 calories; 45 % fat (15 g total, 3 g saturated), 1,410 mg omega-3s, 18% carbohydrate (13.7 g), 37% protein (28 g), 43 mg cholesterol, 3.4 g fiber, 44 mg vitamin C, 3.4 mg vitamin E, 1 mg zinc, 50 mg sodium.

Side Dishes:

Creamy Herb Hummus with Bell Peppers, Broccoli and Wheta Pita Wedges

Especially rich in:  vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, and zinc

Also rich in:  plant-based omega-3s, fiber calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and selenium

Homemade hummus is easy to make and much lower in calories and fat than store-bought brands.  It also makes a great sandwich spread.


 1 (15 -ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

 1 tablespoon lemon juice

 2 tablespoon olive oil

 2 clove garlic, minced

 1/3 cup chopped parsley

 ¼ cup chopped fresh basil (or, 3 to 4 teaspoons dried basil)

 Pinch of cayenne pepper

 Salt and pepper to taste

 ¼ cup sliced green onions

1 tablespoon minced fresh basil (or, 1 teaspoon dried basil)

2 whole wheat pita breads, cut into wedges

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and sliced into 1″ slices

1 cup broccoli flowerets

In a food processor or blender, blend first 8 ingredients, adding enough water to make a smooth dip. (Makes approximately 1 ½ cups.)

Spoon into a serving bowl and top with green onions and basil.  Serve with pita wedges and vegetables.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional Information (per serving): 310 calories; 28% fat (9.6 g total, 1 g saturated), 141 mg omega-3s, 56% carbohydrate (43g), 16% protein (12.4 g), ) mg cholesterol, 10 g fiber, 67 mg vitamin C, 1.8 mg vitamin E, 2.2 mg zinc, 137 mg sodium.

Rum Flavored Kiwi, Pineapple, Orange Toss with Coconut & Chopped Nuts

Especially rich in: vitamin C
Also rich in: fiber, folate, magnesium, and potassium

* Although fresh pineapple is best, canned in its own juice will work in a pinch.


2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Splenda
¼ cup water
Juice of half a lime
1 teaspoon rum extract
4 kiwi fruit, peeled and cubed
1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
2 medium oranges, peeled and cubed
3 tablespoons coconut
¼ cup almonds, chopped


In a small saucepan, heat sugar, Splenda, and water until dissolved. Remove from heat and cool. Add lime juice and rum extract.

Place fruit in a medium bowl, add coconut and sugar water. Toss thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 hour to allow flavors to blend.

Place fruit mixture in 4 parfait glasses, top with chopped nuts, and serve.

Makes 4 servings (approx. 1 ¼ cups each).

Nutritional Information (per serving): 199 calories; 31% fat (6.8 g total, 2.6 g saturated), 62 mg omega-3s, 62% carbohydrate (30.8 g), 7% protein (3.5g), 0 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber, 118 mg vitamin C, 1.6 mg vitamin E, 0.5 mg zinc, 6.7 mg sodium

Green Mashed Potatoes

Especially rich in: lutein/zeaxanthin and vitamin C

Also rich in: fiber, potassium


2 1 /2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 bunch collard greens, washed, stemmed and cut into 1 /2″ strips (apprx. 8 cups)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fat-free 1 /2 & 1 /2 cream
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper to taste



Place potatoes in large pot of cold water, bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer until tender, approximately 20 minutes. Drain and return potatoes to pot.

Place collards and garlic in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to simmer and steam covered for 10 minutes or until cooked through, but still bright green, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Remove from heat.

Add remaining ingredients to potatoes, along with collards. Mash or whip to desired consistency. Add more cream if too thick.

Makes 8 servings (approx. 2/3 cup each).


Nutritional Information (per serving): 176 Calories; 8 % fat (1.6 g total, <1 g saturated), 36 mg omega-3s 81 % carbohydrate (35.6 g), 11 % protein (4.8 g), 4 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 27 mg vitamin C, 1 mg vitamin E, 0.5 mg zinc, 39 mg sodium.