Eating Oranges Could Reduce Risk of Common Eye Disease
An Australian study has found that people who regularly eat oranges have a significantly reduced risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, a condition that can lead to sight loss.
It is thought that flavonoids (natural plant chemicals) in oranges help prevent the eye disease.
Age-related macular degeneration usually affects people when they get to their 50s or 60s. The condition affects the central part of the retina, impacting the middle part of people’s vision.
Although it doesn’t cause total sight loss, it can make everyday activities such as reading or watching TV very difficult. Without treatment, the condition gets worse over time.
Diet and vision
Researchers from the Westmead Institute for Medical Research in Sydney, Australia, interviewed 2,856 adults aged 49 years or over, and followed them up over a 15-year period. They asked them about their diet and vision.
The participants were asked to fill in a food questionnaire and the researchers analysed the flavonoid content of the foods the people ate.
Flavonoids are natural substances found mainly in fruit and vegetables. They are known to have beneficial effects on health, including having anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.
Oranges are rich in flavonoids. This study looked to build on previous research that has focused on the effect of vitamins A, C and E on eye sight and eye disease.
Reduced risk of eye disease
The research showed that people who ate at least one serving of oranges every day had a more than 60% reduced risk of developing age-related macular degeneration 15 years later – compared to those who never ate oranges.
Even those who only ate one serving of oranges once a week saw benefits in terms of eye health. There was no link found between the risk of macular degeneration and other foods that contain flavonoids, such as tea, red wine and apples.
Lead Researcher Professor Bamini Gopinath said: “Flavonoids are powerful anti-oxidants found in almost all fruits and vegetables, and they have important anti-inflammatory benefits for the immune system.”
“Our research aims to understand why eye diseases occur, as well as the genetic and environmental conditions that may threaten vision.”
The researchers recommend that further studies need to be carried out to validate these findings. The results were published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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