Lutein and vitamin A slowed vision loss, and omega-3s, nuts and olive oil protected against eye disease in adults, several new studies reveal.
In a lutein study, 225 nonsmokers with a progressive blindness disease (retinitis pigmentosa), aged 18 to 60, took 12 mg of lutein per day or a placebo, along with 15,000 IU of vitamin A palmitate. After four years, those in the lutein group had less loss of mid-peripheral vision compared to placebo. Lutein, a natural plant-based yellow carotenoid, increased pigment levels in the macula of the eye. Those with the greatest increase in pigment had the slowest decline in vision.
In an eye disease study, researchers measured fats in the diets of 6,734 older adults. Those who consumed the most trans fats (hydrogenated oils) were 76 percent more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD) than those who consumed the least. For omega-3s, chances were 15 percent lower, and for olive oil, 52 percent lower.
In another AMD study, doctors measured the diets and signs of early stage AMD in 2,454 older adults, and followed up for 10 years. Those who ate one serving of fish per week, took omega-3 fatty acid supplements or ate one to two servings of nuts per week were up to 35 percent less likely to develop early AMD compared to those who did not. In general, those who consumed lower than average levels of the omega-6 linoleic acid, were non-smokers, had a higher ratio of HDL (the "good" cholesterol) to total cholesterol, or who consumed more beta-carotene than average, were least likely to develop early AMD. Doctors said that balancing nutrients helps maximize health benefit.