Move over carrots: In a small new study, just a couple of handfuls of grapes per day for four months was enough to improve key markers of eye health in older adults
This could be due to the fact that a lot of degeneration of the eyes is from oxidative stress—and grapes are high in anti-oxidants.
The research team from the National University of Singapore studied 34 adults who consumed either one-and-a-half cups of grapes a day or a placebo for 16 weeks.
The grape eaters showed a significant increase in macular pigment optical density (MPOD), plasma antioxidant capacity, and total phenolic content compared to those on placebo.
Furthermore, those who did not consume grapes saw a significant increase in harmful ocular advanced glycation end products (AGE)—high levels of which a key risk factor for eye disease, along with oxidative stress.
Based on a double-blind, randomized trial, the peer-reviewed study was published in the journal Food & Function.
Previous research shows that AGEs may contribute to many eye diseases by damaging the vascular components of the retina, impairing cellular function, and causing oxidative stress. Preliminary studies in mice showed consuming grapes was found to protect retinal structure and function.
Grapes, which are a natural source of antioxidants and other polyphenols can decrease oxidative stress and inhibit the formation of AGEs, with possible beneficial effects on the retina, such as an improvement in MPOD.
“Our study is the first to show that grape consumption beneficially impacts eye health in humans which is very exciting, especially with a growing aging population,” said study co-author Dr. Jung Eun Kim.
“Grapes are an easy, accessible fruit that studies have shown can have a beneficial impact in normal amounts of just 1 ½ cups per day.
“Regular intake of grapes may improve eye health in older adults, specifically in augmenting MPOD, which can be explained by an increase in plasma total antioxidant capacity and phenolic content, and the downregulation of AGEs.”
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