Mediterranean Diet Reduces Risk of Blindness by 26%

Mediterranean Diet and eye health

Mediterranean Diet Reduces Risk of Blindness by 26%

A new study out in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that participants who ate a Mediterranean Diet were 26% less likely to get advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a disease of the eye, which cannot be cured (but can be treated) and as it progresses, leads to blindness. One out of 10 people ages 64-74 will get AMD, and 1 out of every 3 people will get it once they are over 75 years old.   The prevalence of AMD is expected to increase by 50% by the year 2020 because of our increased aging population. As would be expected, those with AMD have high rates of depression and anxiety.

As with most diseases there are risk factors that will make you more likely to get AMD which includes smoking, being overweight, and eating red meat.   AMD is an inflammatory disease. The Mediterranean Diet has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory diet. Many of the individual components of the diet have been shown to have a positive effect on eye health such as increased intake of vegetables, fish, and nuts. This is the first study to show that the Mediterranean Diet as a whole is significantly beneficial for decreasing risk of age-related macular degeneration. The 13 year study looked at 2525 subjects who were part of the Age Related Eye Disease Study (ARED). The participants were given food frequency questionnaires and were rated on a Mediterranean Diet score. Those with the highest Mediterranean Diet scores were 26% less likely to progress to advanced AMD.

The Mediterranean Diet is based on the countries and islands around and on the Mediterranean Sea. It is often considered one of the healthiest diets in the world. The Greek islands of Crete and Ikaria and the Italian island of Sardinia are considered the healthiest places in the Mediterranean. The diet of the islands consist of large amounts of fresh extra virgin olive oil (30% of daily calories), vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans. They drink wine with their meals on a daily basis. Traditionally, meat is eaten in small quantities and is almost always grass fed.

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