A new study has shown that people who regularly eat oranges are less likely to develop macular degeneration than people who don’t eat the fruit. Researchers from the Westmead Institute for Medical Research interviewed more than 2,000 Australian adults aged over 50 and followed them over a 15-year period.
Age-related macular degeneration, affecting adults over the age of 50, is a chronic disease that attacks the central part of the retina called the macula, which controls fine, detailed vision. The condition results in progressive loss of visual sharpness making it difficult to drive a car, read a book and recognize faces.
Flavonoids in oranges protective
The research showed that people who ate at least one serving of orange (one medium orange) every day – versus no oranges – had more than a 60 per cent reduced risk of developing late macular degeneration 15 years later. Even eating an orange once a week seemed to offer significant benefits.
It’s thought that phytochemicals in oranges, called flavonoids, appear to help prevent against the eye disease.
Until now most research had focused on the effects of nutrients such as vitamins C, E and A on the eyes.
Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants found in almost all fruits and vegetables, and they have important anti-inflammatory benefits for the immune system.
The researchers examined common foods that contain flavonoids such as tea, apples, red wine and oranges. The data did not show a link between other food sources protecting the eyes against macular degeneration.
The research compiled data from 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.
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