May 14, 2009

Fish, nuts, olive oil may aid eyes

People who eat fish, nuts and olive oil may lower their risk of age-related blindness, Australian researchers said.

Two studies, published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, link lowered risk of age-related macular degeneration to eating omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and regular consumption of fish and/or nuts in the diet.

In one study, Jennifer Tan of Westmead Hospital of University of Sydney, 2,454 participants completed a food frequency questionnaire in 1992. Five and ten years later they were assessed for age-related macular degeneration using digital photographs of the retina.

After adjusting for age, sex and smoking, eating one serving of fish per week was associated with a 31 percent lower risk of developing the disease. The association was stronger when individuals ate less linoleic acid -- unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid -- found primarily in vegetable oils. Eating two servings of nuts resulted in a 36 percent lower risk.

In another study, Dr. Elaine W.-T. Chong of the Center for Eye Research Australia, had 6,734 participants -- age 58-69 -- fill out food frequency questionnaires from 1990 to 1994.

The researchers found those who ate higher levels of trans-unsaturated fats were more likely to have late age-related macular degeneration and those who consumed the most omega-three fatty acids were less likely to have early age-related macular degeneration.