An orange a day reduces risk of macular degeneration

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An orange a day reduces risk of macular degeneration

For orange lovers everywhere there’s good news: People who regularly eat oranges are less likely to develop macular degeneration than people who never eat oranges.  This news is from a study by researchers at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research in Australia who interviewed and followed more than 2,000 participants aged 50 and older for 15 years. 

The findings from the study showed that those who ate at least one serving of oranges every day had more than a 60% reduction in developing macular degeneration 15 years later.  Macular degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain.  The retina’s central portion, known as the macula, is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye, and it controls the ability to read, drive a car, recognizes faces or colors, and see objects in fine detail. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss over the age of 50, affecting more than 10 million Americans – more than cataracts and glaucoma combined. There is currently no cure for macular degeneration.

The study also found that even eating an orange once a week seems to offer significant benefits. 

Data from the study showed the reason for oranges’ strong contribution for lowering the risk of macular degeneration appears to be due to their flavonoid content.  Flavonoids found in oranges seem to be helping to protect against the eye disease.

Past research has tended to focus primarily on common nutrients such as vitamins C, E, and A.  This study was different as it focused on the relationship between flavonoids and macular degeneration. It is known that flavonoids are powerful antioxidants found in almost all fruits and vegetables offering important anti-inflammatory benefits for the immune system.

For the study, other foods besides oranges were also studied for their possible contribution to lower macular degeneration.  These foods included tea, apples, and red wine.  However, data from the study did not show a relationship between these foods sources in being able to protect eyes from macular degeneration.  Only oranges showed this ability.

The research performed also compiled data from the Blue Mountains Eye Study, a benchmark population-based study that started in 1992. This study is one of the world’s largest epidemiology studies, measuring diet and lifestyle factors against health outcomes and a range of chronic diseases.

In the meantime, stock up on oranges, have them at least once a week if not daily to enhance and protect your eyesight from macular degeneration.