20/20 Summer Salad

07 May, 2012

The problem isn't just the squinting and headaches caused by sun glare; it's the deeper-down damage ultraviolet light can do to the retina and lens. The remedy: wearing sunglasses more often than a rock star, and making crunchy green salads a staple. Why? Bushels of green veggies -- zucchini, spinach, broccoli, kale, romaine, and collard greens -- are loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, the nutrient combo that's become famous for being a vision saver.

Almost any sunglasses today -- even bargain brands -- are designed to filter out both UVA and UVB light, the sun's most eye-damaging rays. Supplement their vision protection with salads like this one, which, thanks to the zucchini, has a whopping 3,431 micrograms of lutein/zeaxanthin per serving. Not to mention nice amounts of calcium, protein, potassium, fiber, and other nutritious goodies -- and it tastes terrific! 

Sight-Saving Zucchini Salad
Zucchini is at its best from mid-April through July. Look for squash that's firm, bright green, and blemish free. 

1.5 lbs of zucchini, cut in quarters 
1/2 cup feta cheese 
1 small bunch of fresh mint, chopped 
Extra-virgin olive oil 
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 
Black pepper, freshly ground 
Cook the zucchini in boiling salted water until just tender, about 7-8 minutes; it's better to undercook than overcook it. 

Drain in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Let the zucchini cool a little, then transfer it to a shallow serving dish. 

Crumble the feta over the top, sprinkle with the mint, and drizzle with the olive oil and vinegar. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled. Makes 4 servings. Prep time: 10-15 minutes. 

Per Serving: calories: 108 kcal; fat total: 7 g (saturated fat: 3.1 g; polyunsaturated fat: 3.4 g; monounsaturated fat: 0.5 g); carbohydrates: 8 g; fiber: 2.5 g; protein: 4 g; vitamin C: 8.3 mg; calcium: 117 mg; magnesium: 32.5 mg; potassium: 76 mg.

SOURCES: Associations of mortality with ocular disorders and an intervention of high-dose antioxidants and zinc in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study: AREDS Report No. 13. Clemons, T. E., Kurinij, N., Sperduto, R. D.; AREDS Research Group, Archives of Ophthalmology 2004 May;122(5):716-726. Nutritional factors in the development of age-related eye disease. Mitchell, P., Smith, W., Cumming, R. G., Flood, V., Rochtchina, E., Wang, J. J., Asian Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2003;12 Suppl:S5. 

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