If you know a thing or two about the Mediterranean diet, you probably know that it's associated with lowered risk of health issues like cancer and heart disease.
Now, according to a new study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) in Chicago, eating a Mediterranean diet may also lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.
To find out how eating a diet abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, healthy fats and fish can help you prevent age-related macular degeneration, read on.
Study links eating a Mediterranean diet to lowered risk of age-related macular degeneration
Before carrying out the study, the researchers noted that there was little research on whether or not the Mediterranean diet helps protect against eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration
, so they weren’t sure what to expect.
For the study, the researchers assessed the diets of 883 Portuguese people aged 55 and older using questionnaires. Out of these people, 449 has early stage age-related macular degeneration, while the remaining 434 didn’t have any type of eye disease.
The researchers found that those who closely followed a Mediterranean diet were 35% less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration. They also found that eating lots of fruit was especially beneficial.
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Researches note that consuming lots of caffeine may be beneficial for preventing age-related macular degeneration, too
What’s more the researchers found that those who drank lots of caffeine were at lower risk of age-related macular degeneration, too. Among those who consumed high levels of caffeine (about 78 mg a day, which is the equivalent of one shot of espresso), 54% didn’t have age-related macular degeneration and 45% did have the eye disease.
The researchers noted that they analysed caffeine intake because it’s an antioxidant that protects from other health problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
However, the researchers noted that the study didn’t prove that following a Mediterranean diet and drinking coffee caused the risk of age-related macular degeneration to drop.
“This research adds to the evidence that a healthy, fruit-rich diet is important to health, including helping to protect against macular degeneration,” lead author Dr Rufino Silva, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Coimbr, in Portugal, said in an AAO news release. “We also think this work is a stepping-stone towards effective preventive medicine in AMD,” Silva added.