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Mediterranean Diet Prevents Macular Degeneration

Mediterranean Diet Prevents Macular Degeneration
By Jon Barron, June 2, 2009
Here’s one to add to the growing list of benefits conferred by increasing your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids as epitomized by the Mediterranean diet–a dramatically lowered risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). According to the first of several recently published studies, having just one serving of fish per week lowers your risk of macular degeneration by 31 percent while a serving or two of nuts reduces risk by 35 percent. The research found an even stronger association when subjects consumed lower levels of polyunsaturated vegetable oils.
Summing up their findings, the researchers wrote, “In conclusion, our findings support the hypothesis that increased intake of omega-three polyunsaturated fatty acids and regular consumption of fish and/or nuts in the diet may protect against the development of early AMD. These findings also suggest that an appropriate balance among various nutrients is essential for maximizing nutritional benefit.”
Meanwhile, a separate study of 6730 seniors conducted by the Centre for Eye Research (also in Australia) found that the subjects who consumed the highest levels of olive oil (mostly Omega-9 monosaturated fat) had the lowest risk of developing macular degeneration, while those who ate the most trans-fat rich food, especially in baked goods and prepared foods, had the highest rates.
The researchers suggest that nuts, fish, and olive oil aid the eyes because of their Omega-3 fatty acid content and/or low Omega-6 content. They believe that Omega-3s reduce inflammation in the retina and prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. They also contend that trans fats have the opposite effect, increasing inflammation and depositing plaque in the retina and blood vessels leading to the eyes.
Given that macular degeneration is the primary cause of blindness in older adults and that experts project that as many as three million people will have the disease within the next 12 years, those who value their sight would be wise to pay attention to these studies. If preserving your sight doesn’t motivate you, as mentioned above, there are plenty of other reasons to toss the Wesson Oil and stock up on nuts and olive oil. Studies show that the Mediterranean diet dramatically cuts the risk of almost every leading illness–including cancer and heart disease–plus it confers longer life. And if even that doesn’t inspire you to switch to the diet, here’s one more tidbit that might: a related study found a significant link between macular degeneration and cognitive decline.
The director of that study, Tien Yin Wong of the University of Melbourne, summed up his findings: “Our study suggests that there may be common links in the cause and risk factors for both conditions [macular degeneration and cognitive decline]. These links further raise the possibility that preventive and treatment strategies targeted at one condition may be useful for another.”
In other words, if you want to keep both your eyes and your memories of what you’ve seen with them throughout your life, you’d do well to cut out the cupcakes and eat plenty of veggies, krill oil, and nuts.

By Jon Barron, June 2, 2009

Here’s one to add to the growing list of benefits conferred by increasing your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids as epitomized by the Mediterranean diet–a dramatically lowered risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). According to the first of several recently published studies, having just one serving of fish per week lowers your risk of macular degeneration by 31 percent while a serving or two of nuts reduces risk by 35 percent. The research found an even stronger association when subjects consumed lower levels of polyunsaturated vegetable oils.

Summing up their findings, the researchers wrote, “In conclusion, our findings support the hypothesis that increased intake of omega-three polyunsaturated fatty acids and regular consumption of fish and/or nuts in the diet may protect against the development of early AMD. These findings also suggest that an appropriate balance among various nutrients is essential for maximizing nutritional benefit.”

Meanwhile, a separate study of 6730 seniors conducted by the Centre for Eye Research (also in Australia) found that the subjects who consumed the highest levels of olive oil (mostly Omega-9 monosaturated fat) had the lowest risk of developing macular degeneration, while those who ate the most trans-fat rich food, especially in baked goods and prepared foods, had the highest rates.

The researchers suggest that nuts, fish, and olive oil aid the eyes because of their Omega-3 fatty acid content and/or low Omega-6 content. They believe that Omega-3s reduce inflammation in the retina and prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. They also contend that trans fats have the opposite effect, increasing inflammation and depositing plaque in the retina and blood vessels leading to the eyes.

Given that macular degeneration is the primary cause of blindness in older adults and that experts project that as many as three million people will have the disease within the next 12 years, those who value their sight would be wise to pay attention to these studies. If preserving your sight doesn’t motivate you, as mentioned above, there are plenty of other reasons to toss the Wesson Oil and stock up on nuts and olive oil. Studies show that the Mediterranean diet dramatically cuts the risk of almost every leading illness–including cancer and heart disease–plus it confers longer life. And if even that doesn’t inspire you to switch to the diet, here’s one more tidbit that might: a related study found a significant link between macular degeneration and cognitive decline.

The director of that study, Tien Yin Wong of the University of Melbourne, summed up his findings: “Our study suggests that there may be common links in the cause and risk factors for both conditions [macular degeneration and cognitive decline]. These links further raise the possibility that preventive and treatment strategies targeted at one condition may be useful for another.”

In other words, if you want to keep both your eyes and your memories of what you’ve seen with them throughout your life, you’d do well to cut out the cupcakes and eat plenty of veggies, krill oil, and nuts.

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1. Finding Peace of Mind « My Gift of Cancer - June 8, 2009

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