Eye Care in Blacksburg, Virginia
Are Pumpkins High in Vitamins & Minerals?
From pumpkin spice lattes to warm and comforting pumpkin soup, this winter squash is a favorite autumn ingredient — and for good reason. Not only are they delicious, they’re packed with several key nutrients that support ocular health. In fact, the nutrients in pumpkins and other carotenoids are strongly associated with a reduced risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Here’s why your eyes will thank you for consuming more pumpkin this autumn.
High in Vitamins A and C
Vitamin A plays a key role in protecting the cornea and supporting clear vision in dimly-lit settings.
When taken in combination with Vitamin A, Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the risk and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration — a leading cause of blindness in adults. Vitamin C also reduces the risk of developing cataracts.
Great Source of Zeaxanthin and Lutein
Zeaxanthin and Lutein can be thought of as the eye’s natural “sunscreen.” They help filter out damaging high-energy light rays from the eyes.
Consuming sufficient amounts of these nutrients is also linked to a reduced risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Rich in Zinc
Zinc is an essential nutrient for eye health: high levels of it are found in the retina and choroid (the vascular layer of the eye). Zinc deficiency has been linked to having poor nighttime vision and the presence of cataracts.
It also helps deliver Vitamin A to the retina to form melanin (a pigment that protects the eye).
What’s more, zinc reduced the loss of visual sharpness by 19% and significantly slowed the progression of age-related macular degeneration in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) sponsored by the National Eye Institute. The study found that getting 40-80 mg/day of zinc (in combination with other antioxidants) slowed the progression of AMD by 25%. Other studies determined that even a daily zinc intake of 25mg reduces AMD progression.
Some delicious and healthful ways to up your pumpkin intake are roasted pumpkin, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin seeds for snacking, and last but not least — delectable pumpkin soup.
Below is an easy and nutritious recipe for pumpkin soup that will warm you up on chilly autumn days.
Pumpkin Soup - Food for the Soul and Your Eyes
- 2 sugar pumpkins or 2 ¼ cups of pureed pumpkin
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 shallots, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup coconut milk or other non-dairy milk
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp each of nutmeg, black pepper, cinnamon
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Then, cut the tops off the pumpkins and cut them in half. Scrape out all of the seeds with a sharp spoon. Here's a tip: keep the seeds on the side and roast them later for snacking.
Brush the flesh of the pumpkins with olive oil and place them on the parchment paper, cut side down. Place in the oven for 40-50 minutes, until a fork easily pierces the skin.
Remove the pumpkins from the oven and let them cool enough to handle. Remove the skin from the pumpkin and set aside.
In a medium pot placed over medium/high heat, add the olive oil, diced shallots, and garlic. Cook until translucent or slightly browned, stirring occasionally.
Add the pumpkin and remaining ingredients to the pot and simmer for 20 minutes.
Use an immersion blender to puree the soup into a thick and creamy bisque.
Serve hot and enjoy!
REFERENCE Pumpkin picking for eye health