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Thanksgiving Food You Didn’t Know Was Good for Your Eyes

Posted on October 7th, 2021

Thanksgiving is fast-approaching, and we’ve got turkey—and all the fixings—on the brain. We don’t know about you, but as soon as the temperature starts to dip and the leaves start to change colour, we begin to look forward to the traditional Thanksgiving feast, complete with mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and of course, pumpkin pie.

While this meal nourishes our bellies and gives us all the fall feels, believe it or not, it’s also good for our eyes and vision. Indeed, almost every aspect of the usual Thanksgiving menu has inherent benefits for optimal eye health. So, you can actually feel great about indulging!

Feast Your Eyes

We’re breaking down all the critical components of a traditional Thanksgiving spread, and delving into how each one can benefit your eyesight.


Turkey is the focal point of every Thanksgiving feast, and fortunately, it’s loaded with nutrients. Zinc is a star mineral in turkey, and it encourages vitamin A to produce melanin—which together serve to protect your eyes. Not only does consuming zinc-rich products prevent eye-related diseases, it’s known to improve nighttime vision, too.

Cranberry Sauce

You can’t serve turkey on Thanksgiving without some cranberry sauce on the side. Well, just like turkey, cranberry sauce is loaded with health benefits, particularly for your eyesight. (That’s what we call a match made in heaven!) Cranberries contain ample antioxidants and vitamin C, both of which shield your eyes from free radical damage, thereby possibly reducing the risk of developing eye diseases.

Sweet Potatoes

What would a Thanksgiving meal be without at least one sweet potato dish? Although plain-old potatoes offer little nutritional value, sweet potatoes, in contrast, are loaded with beta-carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant that promotes eye health. Studies show that a carotene-rich diet can significantly reduce the risk of developing eye disease. Plus, sweet potatoes are also full of vitamin A, C, and E—all of which are critical for maintaining eye health and preventing cataracts and macular degeneration.

Green Bean Casserole

On the topic of reducing the risk of macular degeneration, green beans also have some serious protective potential. They are filled with lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients that support and protect the retina from harmful high-energy light waves, and help reduce the risk of damage from macular degeneration. Incorporating these two nutrients into your daily diet is essential for overall eye health.

Brussels Sprouts

Like green beans, brussels sprouts—another Thanksgiving favourite side dish—offer surprising benefits for your eyes. Brussels sprouts (and other leafy greens) are also packed with lutein and zeaxanthin, which, as we know, protect and prevent your vision from deteriorating.

Pumpkin Pie

The final element of a Thanksgiving meal is a delicious slice of pumpkin pie. While it might be a decadent, sweet treat, it’s also full of nutrients. Pumpkins are loaded with vitamin A, which as we mentioned above, protect various elements of your eyes, including the macula, lens, and cornea. So, you can feel especially good about having a slice of pie (or two!)

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and be grateful—including for your eye health. While you’re sitting around the table counting your blessings and enjoying a hearty meal, remember that you’re not only nourishing your stomach and mind with Thanksgiving delicacies, but you’re also benefiting your eyes. Hopefully, having that knowledge will make the meal taste even better.

Have questions about how your diet can affect your vision, or any other eye health-related concerns? Book an appointment with your local FYidoctors.