Summer is a time of warm weather, outdoor activites, and backyard BBQ’s! It’s a great time to be reminded of the importance of how lutein benefits your eye health and how to incorporate more into your diet. OWNS member Dr. Sandra Young, author of Visionary Kitchen: A Cookbook for Eye Health shares some great tips and a couple of her favorite summer recipes with us this week.
8 Super Sources for Lutein
These foods are among the best natural sources of lutein. All household serving sizes listed are equal to 3.5 ounces (100 grams) to more easily compare food portions.
- Leafy greens: These contain significantly more lutein than other foods. For example, just 1/2 cup cooked spinach, or 3-1/2 cups raw, supplies 12.6 mg lutein — that’s as much or more than you’d get in a supplement. Similarly, 3/4 cup cooked kale has 8.9 mg lutein.
Other common lutein-rich greens include Swiss chard, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, and dandelion greens.
- Asparagus: A 1/2-cup serving of cooked asparagus (about six spears) has 0.991 mg lutein, or just under 1 mg. Try topping homemade pizza with steamed, cut asparagus spears, and add asparagus to omelets, casseroles, stir-fries, and pasta dishes.
- Colorful salad greens: Darker-colored salad greens are generally richer in nutrients. A 2-cup serving of shredded romaine lettuce has 3.8 mg lutein, while iceberg lettuce has only 0.171 mg. Top your salad with 1 cup each of cucumber (unpeeled) and orange bell pepper slices, which have 0.361 mg lutein and 0.208 mg, respectively.
- Broccoli: A scant 1-cup cooked serving of this commonly eaten vegetable has 0.772 mg lutein. In comparison, the same amount of corn, has 0.202 mg.
- Green Beans: This versatile vegetable offers 0.306 mg lutein in a 3/4-cup cooked serving. Enjoy steamed and topped with lemon-herb butter, tucked inside your favorite casserole, stir-fried with slivered almonds, roasted in the oven, tossed in a bean salad, or cooked outdoors in a grill basket.
- Zucchini: Unlike winter squash, zucchini has a thin skin you can easily eat, which is where some of the lutein resides. Just 1/2 cup cooked zucchini with the skin has 1.3 mg lutein. In contrast, 1/2 cup cooked yellow squash with the skin has just 0.150 mg lutein, and 1/2 cup cooked (and peeled) butternut squash has only 0.057 mg lutein.
- Pistachios: Though nuts aren’t typically a good source of lutein, a scant 1-cup portion of shelled pistachios has 1.4 mg — accompanied by a high mark of 578 calories. Though a typical serving is only 1/4 cup, that still provides 0.350 mg of lutein and a more figure-friendly 170 calories.
- Eggs: A serving of two large cooked eggs supplies 0.237 mg of lutein, particularly in the yolks. Importantly, the lutein they contain is absorbed about three times better than from a vegetable source, which is thought to be due to the fat in the egg.
Grilled Peaches with Balsamic Cherry Reduction©
3 cups pitted cherries, fresh or frozen
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 ripe peaches, halved & pitted
1 Tbsp butter, melted
Mint or basil, for garnish
- Roughly chop 2 cups cherries. Slice in half the remaining 1 cup of cherries, set aside.
- In a sauce pan, combine roughly chopped cherries, balsamic vinegar and black pepper. Simmer uncovered over medium low heat until volume has reduced in half, approximately 30 minutes. Stir in cinnamon and allow to cool. (May be made up to 48 hours in advance.) Before serving stir in the reserved halved cherries.
- Heat grill to medium hot. Paint cut side of peaches with butter. Grill 3-4 minutes, rotating a quarter turn to create hatch marks.
- To serve: Place peaches on a platter. Cover and keep warm, if desired. Before serving, spoon the Balsamic Cherry Reduction over each peach. Garnish with mint or basil. If desired, serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Nutrition Facts per serving – 102kcal; 2g fat; 1g sat fat; 20g carbohydrates; 2g dietary fiber; 17g sugar; 2g protein; vitamin A 17%DV; vitamin C 11%DV; calcium 2%DV; iron 4%DV
Nutrition for Eye Health – vitamins A, C, E, thiamin(B1), riboflavin(B2), niacin(B3), pantothenic acid(B5), B6; beta carotene, copper, lutein+zeaxanthin
Spinach Iced Cubes©
Makes: 8 – 1/4 cup servings
Wok or 12” sauté pan with lid
1 or 2 silicon iced cube trays
2 lbs fresh spinach, washed
1/3 cup water
- Preheat wok over medium high heat.
- Add water and half the spinach. Cover for 1 minute.
- Stir and add the rest of the spinach. Cover and allow to wilt for 1-2 minutes.
- Remove from heat, cool a few minutes.
- Place in a strainer to remove excess liquid.
- Roughly chop. Fill iced cube trays with chopped spinach.
- Freeze tightly covered.
How to use your Spinach Iced Cubes©
- Thaw 1 or more cubes, microwave to heat. Garnish with grated parmesan cheese.
- Thaw 1 cube. Scramble with 2 “omega-3” eggs.
- Add 1 cube to your favorite green smoothie recipe.
- Add 1 or more cubes to your favorite marinara sauce.
Nutrition facts per serving (% Daily Value*)
Calories 26kcal; total fat 0.4g; saturated fat 0.1g; cholesterol 0mg; sodium 90mg; total carbohydrate 4.1g; dietary fiber 2.5g; total sugars 0.5g; protein 3.2g; *iron 17%; *vitamin K 608%.
Eye health nutrition per serving
Lutein (+Zeaxanthin) 5,088mcg; *vitamin A 456%; *vitamin C 43%; *folate 55%; *vitamin B1 (thiamine) 8%; *vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 19%; *vitamin B3 (niacin) 6%; *vitaminB6 17%; *vitamin E 15%.
For people taking blood thinners, please note that spinach is rich in vitamin K.