For adults with type 2 diabetes, following a Mediterranean diet that includes at least two servings of fatty fish per week may lower the risk of diabetic retinopathy, according Spanish researchers.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complications of diabetes; it occurs when damage occurs to the retina; it can eventually lead to blindness.
The researchers analyzed data on people participating in a larger randomized trial known as PREDIMED, which ran from 2003 to 2009 in Spain and tested a Mediterranean diet with added extra virgin olive oil or nuts against a usual comparison diet for preventing heart problems over time.
About 3,600 adults, aged 55 to 80, who took part in PREDIMED had type 2 diabetes and the new study focused on them.
Based on food frequency questionnaires, the researchers determined that 75 per cent of the participants had met target omega-3 fatty acid intake levels of 500 mg per day, which can be achieved by eating two weekly servings of fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and trout.
Eating two servings of oily fish protected from eye complications
Over about a six-year follow-up period, there were 69 new cases of diabetic retinopathy. People who were meeting omega-3 fatty acid guidelines when the study began were 48 percent less likely to have this diagnosis during the study than others.
As the incidence of type 2 diabetes is increasing, more individuals will suffer from diabetic complications which, if not properly managed, may lead to permanent eye damage, the researchers said.
Incorporating fish into the diet is not only beneficial for the eyes, research suggests it also protects the heart and brain.
Good sources of fish that are rich in omega-3 fats and low in mercury include salmon, trout, sardines, herring, anchovies and Arctic char.
Source: JAMA Ophthalmology, August 18, 2016.
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