Thursday, January 28, 2010

28: Eating for the Eyes, Part 2: Listening to Color

The Idea: Our bodies know what they need and we send ourselves signals in interesting ways. One is through color: the colors that we are drawn to may indicate what foods we should be eating. Foods of certain colors contain certain nutrients linked to their pigmentation. The most well known example of this is with carrots and the beta carotene indicated by their orange hue.

Carrots are always put forth as the quintessential eye food. True they are good for the eyes and the rest of the body, and they are not alone. Here's a list of other foods that I've ben told are good for the eyes:
  1. Collards and Kale: These dark leafy greens from the brassica family are rich and vitamin A and lutein. Cook them any way you like, or chop them finely to eat raw as a salad or mixed with other stuff.
  2. Dandelion: The bitter greens of this common weed are the highest in vitamin A, as well as calcium and iron. Baby dandelion greens are good in salads, bigger greens are best sauteed with a little salt to draw out the bitterness. Dandelion also strengthens the liver, which strengthens the eyes. See my post about herbs for more info.
  3. Apricots: Their orange pigment alludes to bioflavonoids that support retinal function. Dried apricots are more potent for their ability to do this.
  4. Yellow Pigmented Vegetables: Yellow and orange bell peppers, winter squashes, orange sweet potatoes and yams are all up there with carrots for their high concentration of vitamin A in the form of beta carotene.
  5. Blueberries: Actually yellow under their skin, they've been touted as "superfoods" in recent years. They contain certain bioflavonoids that adhere to the cone cells in the retina to at least temporarily improve vision. I wrote about both blueberries and bilberries in my post about herbs.
Testimonial: Orange has always been my favorite color and I believe that this is my body's way of letting me known what I need to be eating. Growing up around processed foods meant that I responded by eating a lot of artificially colored cheese products, but as I listened to my body further and moved toward a diet based more on fresh vegetables, it meant eating the foods listed above. My taste in color also changed—in recent years I've been more drawn to green than orange, perhaps indicating the need for more lutein than beta carotene to support my eyes as well as the other systems in my body.

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