We often hear about Vitamin A for eye health, but did you know the mineral zinc also contributes to proper eye health and functioning?
Zinc and Eye Health
Zinc is an essential trace mineral that plays a vital role in eye health. It helps to protect the eyes from oxidative damage caused by free radicals and helps to reduce inflammation. It also plays an important role in the production of melanin, which helps to protect the eyes from ultraviolet radiation.
Research has shown that zinc can help to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in adults over the age of 65. Studies have found that higher levels of zinc in the body are associated with a lower risk of developing AMD.
Zinc also helps to reduce the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes that can lead to blindness. Zinc helps to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which can damage the blood vessels in the retina.
Food Sources of Zinc
The best sources of zinc are oysters, beef, lobster, crab, pork, nuts, chicken, and fortified cereals. Eating a balanced diet that includes seafood, meat, and nuts can help to ensure that you get enough zinc in your diet. If you are unable to get enough zinc through your diet, you may want to consider taking a zinc supplement.
Overall, zinc plays an important role in maintaining good eye health.
Eating a balanced diet that includes foods high in zinc, such as lentils and chickpeas from the recipe below, and taking a zinc supplement can help to ensure that you get enough of this essential mineral.
Harira - Moroccan Lentil & Chickpea Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, inner leaves are fine, chopped small
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4–1/2 teaspoon cayenne
6 cups broth, vegetable or chicken or water
1 28-ounce canned, whole or crushed tomatoes
1 cinnamon stick (or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
a tiny pinch of saffron (optional)
1–2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 cup red lentils, dry
1/2 cup brown or green lentils, dry
1 1/2 cups (1 15-ounce can) chickpeas (garbanzo beans) cooked
2 teaspoons honey (if needed)
1/4 pound capellini pasta, broken into approximately 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, stems are great
1/2 cup parsley
Serve with lemon wedges, a swirl of yogurt (if desired) and dates on the side.
Saute onions for 5 minutes in olive oil, over medium heat.
Add celery, garlic, ginger, pepper, turmeric, cumin, smoked paprika and cayenne. Stir for another minute. Sautéing the spices allows them to bloom and deepen in flavour.
Add broth, tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, saffron, salt, red lentils, brown lentils, half of the cilantro and half of the parsley. Bring to a simmer, and cover with a vented lid, for 30 minutes.
Add Chickpeas and pasta and cook for 5-10 minutes more. (see notes)
Add honey and remaining fresh herbs.
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