People who regularly eat oranges are less likely to develop macular degeneration than people who do not eat oranges, according to researchers at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research.
More than 2,000 Australian adults aged over 50, were interviewed and followed over a 15- year period. The research showed that people who ate at least one serving of oranges every day 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, according to lead researcher Assoc. Prof. Bamini Gopinath from the University of Sydney, who said, “The data shows that flavonoids found in oranges appear to help protect against the disease”.
Assoc. Prof. Gopinath said that until now most research has focused on the effects of common nutrients such as vitamins C, E and A on the eyes.
“Our research is different because we focused on the relationship between flavonoids and macular degeneration. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants found in almost all fruits and vegetables, and they have important anti-inflammatory benefits for the immune system.
“We examined common foods that contain flavonoids such as tea, apples, red wine, and oranges. Significantly, the data did not show a relationship between other food sources protecting the eyes against the disease,” she said.
The research compiled data from the Blue Mountains Eye Study, a benchmark population-based study that started in 1992.
“Our research aims to understand why eye diseases occur, as well as the genetic and environmental conditions that may threaten vision,” Associate Professor Gopinath concluded.
The full paper is available online at the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: academic.oup.com/ajcn/advance-article/doi/10.1093/ajcn/nqy114/5049680