Macular degeneration can't be cured, but some aspects of our diets may help prevent it. [Photo: Bigstock]

An orange a day keeps macular degeneration at bay

3 August, 2018

Natural Health News — A new study has shown that people who regularly eat oranges are less likely to develop macular degeneration than people who do not eat oranges.

Researchers at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research found that people who ate at least one serving of oranges every day had more than a 60% reduced risk of developing late macular degeneration 15 years later and say the researchers, the data suggest that it’s the flavonoids in oranges that help prevent the disease.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, used data from a study known as the Blue Mountains Eye Study, a benchmark population-based study that started in 1992. It is one of the world’s largest epidemiology studies, measuring diet and lifestyle factors against health outcomes and a range of chronic diseases.

Quick summary

» Australian researchers assessing the diets of people over 50 over a 15 year period have found that the antioxidant flavonoids in oranges may protect against macular degeneration.

» People who ate at least one serving of oranges every day had more than a 60% reduced risk of developing the disease.

Everyday foods can be protective

The team interviewed more than 2,000 adults aged over 50 and followed them over a 15-year period.

Dietary intake was assessed by using a semi-quantitative food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ), after which estimates of the flavonoid content of their foods was assessed by using data from the USDA Flavonoid, Isoflavone, and Proanthocyanidin databases.

Lead Researcher Associate Professor Bamini Gopinath from the University of Sydney said that until now most research has focused on the effects of common nutrients such as vitamins C, E and A on the eyes.

“Our research is different because we focused on the relationship between flavonoids and macular degeneration. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants found in almost all fruits and vegetables, and they have important anti-inflammatory benefits for the immune system. We examined common foods that contain flavonoids such as tea, apples, red wine and oranges. Significantly, the data did not show a relationship between other food sources protecting the eyes against the disease.”

Age is the strongest known risk factor and the disease is more likely to occur after the age of 50.

There is currently no cure for the disease but this latest study suggests that there are possibilities for prevention.