Australian researchers have discovered the people who eat one serving or more of oranges per day have a 60 percent lower likelihood of developing late macular degeneration than those who do not consume oranges.
In the 15-year study, scientists from the Westmead Institute for Medical Research looked at data from a population-based study started in 1992 known as the Blue Mountains Eye study. It’s considered one of the biggest epidemiology studies in the world, and it followed more than 2,000 adults above the age of 50 over the course of 15 years, measuring their lifestyle and various diet factors against their health outcomes and chronic disease incidence.
A questionnaire was used to assess their dietary intake, and the scientists used USDA databases to estimate their flavonoid intake. They discovered that for each increase in flavonoid intake of one standard deviation, an associated reduction in their chances of age-related macular degeneration was noted. Their findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
University of Sydney Associate Professor Bamini Gopinath, who was the study’s lead researcher, commented that even consuming just one orange per week can offer people significant benefits.
She added that other research has shown a link between nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C and eye health, but this is the first to specifically assess the relationship between macular degeneration and flavonoids in particular. However, when they looked at other foods that contain flavonoids, such as apples, red wine, and tea, they did not show the macular degeneration protection afforded by oranges.
They also accounted for vitamin C intake in their analysis and found that the association persisted, which means that the vitamin C in the fruit is not responsible for the protective effects. The researchers believe flavonoids are the most likely explanation, but they haven’t ruled out whether something else about oranges besides vitamin C could play a role.
The researchers also emphasize the importance of a healthy diet overall. They caution against simply adding an orange to your daily routine and expecting everything to be fine, saying instead that oranges can form part of a healthier diet overall.
Scientists do not know precisely what causes macular degeneration, but it is typically linked to a person’s age. It damages the macula, which is a small spot situated near the middle of the retina that is needed for sharp central vision and enables people to see objects directly ahead of them.
Signs of the condition generally appear in people when they’re in their 50s or 60s. In some cases, it may advance so slowly that patients don’t notice vision loss for quite some time. In others, however, it progresses rather quickly, causing the loss of vision in both eyes or just one. An area of blurriness in the middle of a person’s line of sight is one of the most common symptoms, and this blurry area can grow bigger over time. Some sufferers also report that objects appear to be less bright than they did in the past.
Age-related macular degeneration does not normally cause a person to become completely blind. Nevertheless, the central vision loss that it causes can impact daily activities like the ability to read, drive, cook, see faces, or fix items around the house.
Millions of Americans are affected by macular degeneration, and its numbers are on the rise. While consuming oranges daily can reduce your risk of getting the disease, there are also factors that can raise your risk. For example, smoking and genetics can play a role, and the condition is more common in Caucasians. If you suspect you have this condition, an eye doctor can carry out a comprehensive dilated eye exam to make a diagnosis.
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