A new study from King’s College in London suggests that a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables can help prevent cataracts, regardless of genetics. More than half of all Americans will develop a cataract or have cataract surgery by the age of 80, and the numbers are continuing to grow. Therefore, anything that can be done to delay the development of cataracts is of great importance.
Researchers from King’s College studied 1,000 pairs of female twins from the United Kingdom Twins Registry. All participants in the study were about 60 years old when they completed a food and nutrient questionnaire. The research team scanned the eyes of all participants to measure their progression of cataracts.
The participants who ate vitamin C and approximately two servings of fruits and vegetables each day were 20 percent less likely to develop cataracts than those who ate a less nutritious diet. A decade later, the researchers followed up with about one-third of the twin pairs. Those who originally reported eating more vitamin C were now 33 percent less likely to develop cataracts than those who ate a less nutritious diet.
It is important to note that the participants who benefitted from the nutritious diet were not receiving their vitamins from pills. Rather, they were eating twice the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables. From this study, it can be concluded that vitamins are best metabolized when received through food rather than supplements (Source: Medical News Daily).
“We found no beneficial effect from supplements, only from the vitamin C in the diet,” study’s lead author Dr. Chris Hammond, the chair of ophthalmology at King’s College said. ”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.”
The research team concluded that family history accounts for about 35 percent of the risk for cataract progression, and environmental factors like diet comprise the other 65 percent. Simple dietary changes like increasing fruits and vegetables, especially those that are high in vitamin C, can make a significant impact. Some of the best sources of vitamin C are oranges, red and green bell peppers, cantaloupe, papaya, kiwi, broccoli, and dark leafy greens.