Your mother probably told you to “eat your vegetables.” In this instance, she was right. Several large epidemiological studies have found that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have a decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Fruits and Vegetables
Protection is most likely provided by antioxidants in the fruits and veggies. AMD is thought to be caused, in part, by oxidative damage, and fruits/veggies provide antioxidants that our bodies cannot synthesize. Among these, lutein and zeaxanthin are particularly protective. These carotenoids, related to vitamin A, are concentrated in the macula. Foods that are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin include spinach, kale, collard greens, yellow/orange peppers, and yellow corn.
It’s not always easy to obtain and prepare fresh vegetables and fish. One option is to make smoothies with frozen blueberries, cocoa (also rich in antioxidants), flax or chia seeds (rich in omega 3 fatty acids) and spinach.
Higher levels of B vitamins have also been linked to lower AMD risk. Vitamin B6 is found in vegetables and beans, while B12 is abundant in fish and other animal products. However, an Australian study found that higher red meat consumption increases AMD risk. This may result from increased absorption of iron, which can accumulate in the retina and increase oxidative stress
Nutrient Rich and Lower Calories
Higher body weight is a risk factor for AMD, as is higher systemic inflammation, which can also exacerbate arthritis. Weight and inflammation can be reduced by following a nutrient-rich, lower calorie diet. This is likely to result not just in lower AMD risk, but also better overall health. Consider large salads as the main course for lunch and dinner, adding relatively small amounts of animal protein, such as grilled salmon or chicken, if desired, as garnish. The traditional small salad that comes with dinner at a restaurant just isn’t enough. Restaurants specializing in large made-to-order fresh salads are a great option.
- Macular Degeneration Toolkit (Helpful Information to Understand and Manage Macular Degeneration)
- Expert Information on Macular Degeneration (Articles)
- BrightFocus Chats (Audio Presentations on Macular Degeneration)
- Prevention of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Article)
- Importance of Gut Bacteria in a Model of AMD
- Role of Diet and Gut Microbes in Macular Degeneration
- Diet and Genetics in Macular Degeneration
- What Diets Place People at Risk for Developing AMD?
This content was last updated on: December 3, 2019
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