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Grapes Unveiled As Potential Guardians Of Ageing Eyes In Recent Study Health News

In a groundbreaking development for eye health, new research highlights that grapes offer more than just a sweet indulgence. A recently conducted study has unveiled that a daily serving of grapes can significantly enhance age-related vision problems among older individuals, dispelling the notion that carrots are the sole saviours of eye health.

This study marks a significant milestone as the first randomised, controlled human research endeavour exploring the potential advantages of grapes for the ageing population's eyesight.

Researchers behind the study suggest that grape consumption can reduce oxidative stress and confer benefits upon specific age-related biomarkers associated with macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration, a condition that predominantly affects individuals over 50, is characterised by the deterioration of the macula, the central part of the retina. It impairs the ability to see objects directly in front while preserving peripheral vision.

The findings of this study have been published in the reputable journal "Food & Function" and were financially supported by the California Table Grape Commission, which, it is crucial to mention, had no involvement in the execution, analysis, or interpretation of the data.

Unlocking the Eye-Protective Potential of Grapes

The study enrolled 34 participants, divided into two distinct groups. Over a span of 16 weeks, one group incorporated the equivalent of 1.5 cups of freeze-dried table grape powder into their daily diet to ensure precise portion control. The other group served as a control, consuming a placebo powder.

At four-week intervals, researchers measured macular pigment optical density (MPOD) in participants, a key factor in assessing the risk of macular degeneration. Over the course of the study, a noteworthy enhancement in MPOD was observed in the grape-consuming group, while the control group exhibited a significant increase in advanced glycation end products (AGEs) compared to their grape-consuming counterparts.

Tackling Oxidative Stress with Grapes

Oxidative stress arises from an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. Free radicals, with their uneven number of electrons, can inflict damage upon DNA, fatty tissues, and proteins. Macular degeneration is among the ailments stemming from this imbalance.

The researchers also scrutinised the total antioxidant capacity and phenolic content of participants at eight-week intervals. At the study's conclusion, notable improvements in both measures were observed among those consuming grapes compared to the control group.

Dr. Jung Eun Kim, an assistant professor at the Department of Food Science & Technology at the National University of Singapore and one of the study's authors, underscored the eye-protective effects of grapes. She explained, "Grapes are rich in antioxidants such as phenolic compounds (catechin, quercetin, resveratrol, and anthocyanin), certain carotenoids (lutein and β-carotene), and vitamins. These overall antioxidants may explain eye-protective effects against oxidative stress with grapes."

The Right Portion Size

While there are no official guidelines regarding grape consumption, Dr. Kim recommends, "From our study, we can say consuming 1.5 cups daily will benefit your eye health." However, she also cautioned that excessive consumption of whole grapes could lead to elevated blood sugar, especially in individuals with prediabetes or diabetes. To this end, moderation is vital, particularly for those at risk of developing these conditions.

Maintaining a Balanced Diet for Eye Health

Dr. Julia Giyaur, an ophthalmologist in New York who was not involved in the study, advises a balanced diet, including a variety of fruits and vegetables, to promote overall eye health. Other fruits and vegetables that contribute to eye health include carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots (rich in β-carotene), spinach and kale (abundant in lutein and zeaxanthin), and oranges (high in vitamin C).

Decoding Age-Related Vision Loss

The study revealed that grape consumption effectively curbed the accumulation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs are detrimental compounds formed when sugars react with proteins or fats in the body, leading to inflammation, oxidative stress, and cellular damage, which play a significant role in ageing-related conditions, including macular degeneration.

However, Dr. Giyaur pointed out the study's limitations, such as the relatively small number of participants, the short duration of the follow-up, and the use of grape powder. She stressed that age-related macular degeneration prevention is a multifaceted issue influenced by various factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and overall dietary habits.

In conclusion, while grapes show promise as a potential ally in the battle against age-related vision loss, further research is required to corroborate these findings. Future investigations are already in the works, with plans to delve deeper into the effects of grapes on visual acuity, contrast/glare sensitivity, and photostress recovery time. The road to understanding the full scope of grapes' impact on eye health remains a work in progress.

Source: Medical News Today - Food & Function