Eating This One Fruit Could Improve Eyesight in Old Age, According to New Study
While carrots have long enjoyed the reputation of being the go-to vegetable for maintaining eye health (somewhat incorrectly), recent research suggests there's another fruit that might be even more important for maintaining eye health as we age.
Which fruit? The answer might surprise you...
A new study reveals that grapes, a fruit already beloved by many, could play a significant role in bolstering the health of our eyes, particularly as we age.
This finding comes at a crucial time, as the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) highlights that nearly two million people in the UK live with sight loss, a number expected to increase significantly due to an ageing population.
With age-related conditions like macular degeneration on the rise, the discovery of grapes' potential benefits is a welcome development in preventative health strategies.
Conducted by a team from the National University of Singapore, the study involved 34 adults who were divided into two groups. One group consumed one and a half cups of grapes daily, while the other group took a placebo. This routine continued for 16 weeks, with fascinating results.
Those who consumed grapes showed a notable increase in macular pigment optical density (MPOD), plasma antioxidant capacity, and total phenolic content, all of which are crucial markers of good eye health.
In contrast, the placebo group experienced an increase in harmful ocular advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
Let's break down some of the scientific terms to understand better what these findings mean for our eye health.
What is MPOD?
Macular Pigment Optical Density (MPOD): The macula is a small area in the centre of the retina, the part of the eye responsible for sharp, clear, straight-ahead vision.
This area contains a high concentration of pigment, primarily composed of two types of compounds called lutein and zeaxanthin, which are crucial for protecting our eyes from harmful light, especially the high-energy blue light.
MPOD refers to the concentration of these pigments in the macula; a higher density is generally associated with better visual performance and lower risk of macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss.
What is Phenolic Content?
Phenolic Content: Phenolic compounds are a group of chemical substances found in plants, known for their antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants are vital for health because they neutralise harmful molecules called free radicals, which can damage cells and contribute to aging and diseases.
In the context of grapes, phenolic content refers to the amount of these beneficial antioxidant compounds present in the fruit. A higher phenolic content is linked to stronger antioxidant activities, which is why foods rich in phenolic compounds, like grapes, are considered beneficial for health, including eye health.
Why Does This Matter?
AGEs are detrimental compounds that form when protein or fat combine with sugar in the bloodstream. They've been linked to the degeneration of the retina and various eye diseases, primarily due to the oxidative stress they cause.
Grapes, rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, can counteract this process, inhibiting the formation of AGEs and reducing oxidative stress.
This is particularly important for the aging population, for whom eye disease and vision problems are more prevalent.
Simple and effective
Dr. Jung Eun Kim, the co-author of the study, expressed excitement about the findings, stating, "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."
The implication is clear: incorporating grapes into our daily diet can be a simple yet effective way to contribute to eye health.
The findings of this groundbreaking study are indeed eye-opening. They suggest that making small but significant changes to our diet, such as including a daily serving of grapes, can have profound effects on our eye health.
So, the next time you're looking for a healthy snack, why not reach for a bunch of grapes? Your eyes might thank you in the long run.
1. How many grapes should I eat daily to reap the benefits?
The study suggests that consuming about one and a half cups of grapes daily can contribute to improved markers of eye health.
2. Can eating grapes prevent eye diseases?
While the study shows that grapes can improve certain markers of eye health, it does not conclusively prove that they can prevent eye diseases. However, their antioxidant properties are beneficial for overall eye health.
3. Are there other foods that I should be eating to improve my eye health?
Yes, a balanced diet is crucial for maintaining eye health. Other foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins C and E, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids are also known to be good for eye health.
This article is for general information only and is not intended to treat or diagnose medical conditions. If in doubt please check with your GP first.
 Ministry of Information (1940). "Carrots Keep You Healthy and Help You See in The Blackout": British WWII Propaganda Campaign Records.
 Impacts of regular consumption of grapes on macular pigment accumulation in Singapore older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Food & Function 18, 2023