Some foods get all the credit: bananas for their potassium, kale as the leanest green and carrots for their eye-boosting abilities.
But beyond the ever-extolled eye superfood, carrots, there are many diet-friendly foods that are an asset to your waistline and a wonder for keeping your eyes healthy. To help you eat your way to better vision — without living on rabbit food — we reached out to Chip Goehring, Board President of the American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF). Goehring, who was diagnosed with macular degeneration and told he might go blind 22 years ago, can still see, read and drive — a result he credits to science-backed foods and supplements. Inspired to help others, Goehring and AMDF’s Director of Special Projects had the idea to create Eat Right For Your Sight based on 20 years of the foundation’s research.
Add these double-duty weight loss foods that also protect your peepers to your diet with tips from Goehring for how to enjoy them deliciously.
You’ll want to befriend this lean, green soybean stat. “Edamame is a complete protein that also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which support the healthy development of your brain, nerves and eyes,” says Goehring. And this mighty green bean is also a powerful weight loss ally. Upping your intake of plant foods like edamame decreases your risk of obesity, according to research. One of the most significant factors in the battle against the bulge is the fiber content of weight loss foods like soybeans. High fiber promotes feelings of fullness between meals, keeping you away from less healthy snacks, countless studies have shown. With 8 grams of fiber per cup, edamame is fiber-rich and calorie-low — a nutritional duo we can get behind. Goehring suggests sprinkling them in salads and using them in curries.
Eat This! Tip
Try swapping out your fat-laden potato chips in favor of protein-packed dry-roasted edamame. It’s one of our favorite low-carb snacks and boasts an impressive 11 grams of protein per 100-calorie pack. Stash a couple at work to ward off the dreaded 3 pm slump.
These slimy shellfish may not be proven to make you feel frisky, but science says they’ll help you build lean muscle and also protect your peepers. A 3-ounce serving clocks in under 90 calories and is a low-fat way to get a hearty dose of protein. Just one serving serves up 10 to 16 grams of the bicep-building nutrient. But that’s not all they have going for them. “In addition to being a great source of protein, oysters also have a lot of zinc. This mineral helps convert vitamin A, a vital nutrient for eye health, into a usable form and transport it through blood,” Goehring explains. “Recent studies also suggest that zinc can slow the progression of macular degeneration,” he adds.
Eat This! Tip
“Fresh oysters simply grilled and topped with breadcrumbs and cheese are a treat for the palate and the eyes,” shares Goehring. For a more weight-loss friendly version of breadcrumbs, use whole-wheat bread, or swap the bread for walnuts. Simply place the desired amount of nuts in a ziploc bag and roll over with a rolling pin or pound down with a mallet until they reach desired consistency.
“Grapes contain anthocyanin, a name used for certain purple, blue or red antioxidants that may help boost collagen structure in the retina,” says Goehring. This protects your eyes and may help guard you against macular degeneration. And those same anthocyanins that help protect your eyes will help you see some weight loss wins thanks to their ability to inhibit inflammatory chemicals. In fact, women who consumed the most berries, grapes and red wine had lower levels of inflammation and insulin resistance, two factors that help ward off diabetes, than those who consumed less, according to recent research in The Journal of Nutrition. Dark grapes, which boast high amounts of ellagic acid, are a particularly good choice as they can spike fat burning in your body.
Eat This! Tip
Eat as many (natural) red and purple foods as you can. Buy frozen berries or pop your grapes and berries in the freezer before eating. The healthy antioxidants that boost eye health are found mainly in the skins of these fruits, and subjecting them to lower temperatures changes the structure and makes the healthy compounds more available, researchers say.
4. Butternut Squash
Your skinny jeans and baby blues will both be happy with this choice. “Butternut squash is rich in carotenoids, which are a vital nutrient for eye growth and development,” explains Goehring. And when you’re craving a starchy side, but working to meet your weight loss goals, butternut squash should be your go-to. It easily transforms into a silky side with more vitamins and minerals and far fewer calories than butter-laden mashed potatoes or fatty mac and cheese.
Eat This! Tip
“One of my favorite ways to serve it is as a roasted squash hummus dressed up with cilantro, walnuts and pomegranate seeds. Serve the hummus with warm whole-wheat tortillas as a healthy snack or appetizer,” Goehring suggests. It’s also perfect for comforting soups. When looking to lose weight, you may have blacklisted creamy soups from your kitchen, but pureed butternut squash proves a great swap for calorie- and fat-laden butter and cream. It won’t add any fat to the recipe, but it will lend the velvety texture you crave without the calorie overdose.