It turns out that drizzling olive oil over top of your spaghetti isn’t just delicious, but it can boost your eye health too. A new study recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology has found that people who follow the Mediterranean diet may be up to one-third less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).
What is ARMD?
Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is a disease that blurs that sharp, central vision you need for most activities such as reading, sewing, and driving. It affects the macula, the part of the eye that allows you to see fine detail. Over time, the blurred area may grow larger or you may develop blank spots in your central vision. ARMD is the leading cause of blindness among older adults.
What is a Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is high in omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, nuts, and olive oil and low in the trans fats found in baked and processed foods. The diet is also abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
Researchers studied the dietary habits of more than 2,500 participants then tracked them down for 13 years. Based on the volunteers’ results, the team found that eating a diet rich in vegetables and oily fish helped the most in protecting the eyes from ARMD.
How Does the Diet Help Eyesight?
Fruits, vegetables, and oily fish have always been rich in antioxidants that prevent inflammation. Kale, in particular, is also rich in lutein, an antioxidant specifically associated with good eye health. Fatty acids found in fish contain important nutrients that are critical for the normal production and functioning of cells, muscles, nerves and organs. Fatty acids also are required for the production of hormone-like compounds that help regulate blood pressure, heart rate, and blood clotting. This means that a Mediterranean diet may also decrease the risk of other diseases as well.
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