Adherents of the Mediterranean diet, especially those who eat plenty of fruit, may be reducing their risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by up to a third, a new study suggests.
The research, presented at AAO 2016 (14–18 October, Chicago), also highlighted the protective role that caffeine and other antioxidants had on decreasing a person’s risk of developing the disease.
The University of Coimbra researchers behind the Portuguese study tracked 883 people between 2013–15, aged 55 and older. Of this group, 449 had early-stage AMD and 434 did not have the condition.
After analysing their diet, the researchers found that the people who most closely adhered to the Mediterranean diet – an eating pattern rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, healthy fats and fish and low in red meat and butter – had a 35% lower risk of having the disease.
They found fruit consumption was an important factor, with a lower risk of disease for people who had 150 grams or more of fruit each day. Antioxidants, including caffeine, beta-carotene and vitamins C and E were also correlated with lower rates of AMD.
Of the antioxidants, this effect was particularly pronounced in those who consumed high levels of caffeine equivalent to one shot of espresso.
The study’s findings aligned with other research, University of Coimbra ophthalmologist, Professor Rufino Silva, highlighted.
“This research adds to the evidence that a healthy, fruit-rich diet is important to health, including helping to protect against macular degeneration. We also think this work is a stepping stone towards effective preventative medicine in AMD,” he concluded.
Image credit: Takeaway