Researchers at The Westmead Institute for Medical Research are reporting that people who eat oranges on a regular basis have a lower risk of developing macular degeneration, a common eye disease that can cause severe vision loss.
The investigation was focused on more than 2,000 Australian adults over the age of 50, who were tracked over the course of 15 years. The study revealed that at least one serving of oranges every day reduced the risk of developing macular degeneration by 60 percent.
Bamini Gopinath, the study’s lead researcher, is a professor at the University of Sydney’s and an expert at the Centre for Vision Research.
“Essentially we found that people who eat at least one serve of orange every day have a reduced risk of developing macular degeneration compared with people who never eat oranges,” said Professor Gopinath.
“Even eating an orange once a week seems to offer significant benefits. The data shows that flavonoids found in oranges appear to help protect against the disease.”
According to Professor Gopinath, most previous research has examined 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,” she said. “Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants found in almost all fruits and vegetables, and they have important anti-inflammatory benefits for the immune system.”
The team looked for similar benefits among other common foods that contain flavonoids such as apples, red wine, and tea.
“Significantly, the data did not show a relationship between other food sources protecting the eyes against the disease,” said Professor Gopinath.
Age is the strongest known risk factor for macular degeneration and the disease is more likely to occur after the age of 50. Currently, there is no cure for this disease.
“Our research aims to understand why eye diseases occur, as well as the genetic and environmental conditions that may threaten vision,” said Professor Gopinath.
The study is published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.