The eyes are highly metabolically active. In fact, the retina has the highest metabolic rate of any tissue in the body and is therefore vulnerable to oxidative injury. The most notable antioxidants which help to support the eye are vitamin C, vitamin E; the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin; selenium and phytonutrients. One method of assessing the antioxidant capacity of a particular food is expressed in ORAC units (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). Spices such as cloves, cinnamon and turmeric have a very high ORAC value. Natural cocoa, coffee and green tea are all great sources of antioxidants and have high ORAC values. Other foods high in antioxidants include berries, nuts, dried fruit, vegetables and beans.
Culinary preparation influences the quantity of antioxidants present in a particular food. Since many antioxidants are found in the peel or outer parts of fruit and vegetables, peeling eliminates a significant portion of antioxidants. When berries are boiled to make jam, the heat denatures the antioxidant capacity of the vitamin C and phytonutrients. Jam has little antioxidant capacity especially when compared to fresh berries. Steaming vegetables retain more antioxidants than boiling in water. The nutrient lutein found in kale is more accessible to our bodies when the plant cell walls are broken down through cooking or pureeing.
Oxidation is a natural process that occurs during normal cellular function as oxygen is needed to produce energy by the cells in our eyes and bodies. Free radical formation is derived from this normal metabolic process and from external sources like x-rays, cigarette smoking, air pollutants and sunlight.
Free radicals have a strong affinity for electrons and can damage cells and genetic material. To help with the battle against free radicals, every cell in the body creates its own antioxidant enzymes to diffuse free radicals. In addition, we can acquire antioxidants from food. A balance between free radicals and antioxidants is necessary for proper physiological function and to reduce oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is thought to play a role in age-related macular degeneration, age-related cataract formation, glaucoma and other diseases. Including antioxidant rich foods in your diet everyday will help to reduce the risk or slow the progression of many chronic eye diseases associated with aging.
Chocolate Cherry Sunrise
- 1 1/4 cup hot coffee, freshly brewed
- 4 dates, pitted, diced
- 3/4 cup tart cherries, frozen
- 1 banana, cut into chunks, frozen
- 2 tsp matcha green tea powder
- 1 scoop chocolate protein powder of choice
- 3 T natural cocoa powder
- 2 T almond butter
- 2 red kale leaves, ribs removed
- 5 ice cubes
- 4 tsp cacao nibs
- mint, for garnish
- Allow dates to steep in the hot coffee.
- Place the rest of the ingredients into a high speed blender.
- Add the coffee and dates.
- Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Pour into glasses, sprinkle with cacao nibs. Garnish with mint.
Nutrition Facts (per serving):
Calories: 205 kcal; Protein: 9.5 g; Carbohydrates: 36 g; Dietary Fiber: 6 g; Fat: 5.25 g
Coffee: caffeic acid
Tart Cherries–3 egg: vitamin A, vitamin C
Almond Butter: vitamin E, vitamin B2, fiber
Green Tea: epigallocatechin gallate
Kale: vitamin A, vitamin C, lutein+zeaxanthin
Natural Cocoa and Cacao Nibs: folate, procyanidin
Tart Cherries: 3,474
Almond Butter: 4,454
Green Tea: 1,384
Natural Cocoa: 55,654
Cacao Nibs: 62,100