Pumpkins are not only good for carving and baking pies, but they're also good for your eyes.
Pumpkin, a carotenoid, is rich in nutrients linked to eye and overall health, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. Five years ago, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranked "powerhouse fruits and vegetables" based on nutrient density scores, pumpkin came in No. 20 out of 41-below broccoli but ahead of Brussels sprouts. (Watercress ranked No. 1.)
Consuming these superfoods is "strongly associated" with reducing risks for chronic diseases. Pumpkin, that fall favorite fruit, contains vitamins A, C and E, zinc, fiber, lutein and zeaxanthin-which are all beneficial to the eyes.
Benefits of healthy food for vision
Either through food or vitamin supplements, can help preserve vision. They include:
- Lutein and zeaxanthin, found in green, leafy vegetables, reduce the risk of AMD and cataracts.
- Vitamin E, an antioxidant found in nuts, cereals and sweet potatoes, protects cells in the eye from damage from free radicals.
- Vitamin C, found in fruits and vegetables, lowers the risk for cataracts and slows the progression of AMD.
- Zinc, an essential trace mineral in red meat, seafood and chicken, is concentrated in the retina and choroid. Poor night vision and cataracts have been linked to zinc deficiency in the body.
Picky about pumpkins
Not all pumpkins are created equal-some are better than others for cooking. Decorative pumpkins are slightly different than the more edible versions. Most grocery stores call the edible versions 'pie pumpkins,' which are much smaller than the ones we carve up with scary faces." The fresher (canned pumpkin contains more sugar) the better.
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