Credit Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
Here’s another reason to eat your fruits and veggies: You may reduce your risk of vision loss from cataracts.
Cataracts that cloud the lenses of the eye develop naturally with age, but a new study is one of the first to suggest that diet may play a greater role than genetics in their progression.
Researchers had about 1,000 pairs of female twins in Britain fill out detailed food questionnaires that tracked their nutrient intake. Their mean age was just over 60.
The study participants underwent digital imaging of the eye to measure the progression of cataracts. The researchers found that women who consumed diets rich in vitamin C and who ate about two servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables a day had a 20 percent lower risk of cataracts than those who ate a less nutrient-rich diet.
Ten years later, the scientists followed up with 324 of the twin pairs, and found that those who had reported consuming more vitamin C in their diet — at least twice the recommended dietary allowance of 75 milligrams a day for women (the R.D.A. for adult men is 90 milligrams) — had a 33 percent lower risk of their cataracts progressing than those who get less vitamin C.
The researchers concluded that genetic factors account for about 35 percent of the difference in cataract progression, while environmental factors like diet account for 65 percent.
“We found no beneficial effect from supplements, only from the vitamin C in the diet,” said Dr. Christopher Hammond, a professor of ophthalmology at King’s College London and an author of the study,published in Ophthalmology. Foods high in vitamin C include oranges, cantaloupe, kiwi, broccoli and dark leafy greens.
”This probably means that it is not just vitamin C but everything about a healthy diet that is good for us and good for aging,” he added.