A new study suggests that older adults who eat diets rich in citrus fruits, leafy greens and fish oil may have a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, refers to gradual damage to the macula, a structure in the retina that allows for seeing fine detail.
In this current study, published in the May 2009 issue of Ophthalmology, researchers looked at the overall diet patterns of 4,000 older adults and the links to AMD risk.
Study participants who tended to eat fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, or foods high in vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, lutein and zeaxanthin, had a relatively lower risk of AMD.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are plant pigments that act as antioxidants. These phytochemicals are found in broccoli, spinach and other leafy green vegetables.
The study also found that diets containing foods with a low glycemic index, also seemed to protect against AMD.
Glycemic index refers to how rapidly a food causes blood sugar to rise. High-GI foods (white bread, potatoes) spur a quick elevation in blood sugar, while low-GI foods (high-fibre whole grains, beans) create a more gradual increase in blood sugar.
Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of severe vision loss in Canada, with 78 000 new cases reported in this country last year.
Previous studies have suggested that individual nutrients, including the antioxidants lutein, vitamin C and vitamin E, can help protect against age-related vision loss.
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