Meat free diet guards against cataracts

April 12, 2011 in Nutrition for Older Adults, Nutrition Topics in the News

Meat free diet guards against cataracts
New study findings from researches at the University of Oxford show that eating less meat and more vegetables can help lower the risk of developing cataracts.

Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye thickens and becomes cloudy, blurring vision. The most common cause of cataracts is aging.

To investigate, researchers asked more than 27,000 people older than 40 to fill out dietary surveys between 1993 and 1999, then monitored the participants' medical records between 2008 and 2009 to see if they developed cataracts. Almost 1,500 had cataracts during the follow-up period.

The highest risk was seen among the heaviest meat-eaters - those who consumed more than 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of meat daily.

Moderate meat eaters were only slightly less likely to develop cataracts, whereas fish eaters' risk was 15 percent lower than that of the heavy meat eaters.

However, the greatest reduction in risk was seen among vegetarians and vegans.  Vegetarians had a 30 percent lower risk than heavy meat eaters, while vegans were 40 percent less likely to develop cataracts.

Researchers say further studies are needed, as this study does not prove that eating meat promotes cataracts. It could be due to the fact that a vegetarian diet, plentiful in antioxidant-rich vegetables, is the reason why meat-free diets are protective. A vegetarian diet may also simply be a sign of other healthy behaviors that contribute to a reduced risk.

Smoking, diabetes, and exposure to bright sunlight are also linked to an increased risk for cataracts.

The findings were reported in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.