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What to Eat to Reduce Your Cataract Risk

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To help your aging eyes, think about improving what you eat.

A new Swedish study has found that women age 49 and older who ate a diet rich in disease-fighting antioxidants had a lower risk of developing cataracts.

The team of Swedish researchers looked at the diets of more than 30,000 women ages 49 to 83 and found those with the highest total intake of antioxidants had about a 13 percent lower risk of developing cataracts than women who consumed the least, Reuters reported.

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The women, who filled out a dietary questionnaire, were followed for nearly eight years. Among those who ate the most antioxidants, 745 cases of cataract were recorded, compared with 953 cases among women who ate the least. (One Harvard expert told Reuters he suspects the results would be similar in men, although no research on it has been done yet.)

Antioxidants, including vitamins C, A and E, as well as lycopene, are found in high levels in vividly colored fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, tomatoes, berries and dark green vegetables. (See chart below.) They're also found in coffee, whole grains, chocolate and nuts.

The new research differed from previous studies. Those focused on individual antioxidants "obtained from the diet or supplements and they have reported inconsistent results,"  lead researcher Susanne Rautiainen, of the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institutet, told Reuters. In this study, the researchers looked at the total amount of antioxidants in a subject's diet, which better reflects how the nutrients work together.

The study was published online Dec. 26 in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.

Want to add more antioxidants to your diet? According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, here are the top 10 antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. The numbers reflect the amount of antioxidants in 100 grams, or about 3.5 ounces:


Prunes 5770 Kale 1770
Raisins 2830 Spinach 1260
Blueberries 2400 Brussels sprouts 980
Blackberries 2036 Alfalfa sprouts 930
Strawberries 1540 Broccoli florets 890
Raspberries 1220 Beets 840
Plums 949 Red bell peppers 710
Oranges 750 Onions 450
Red grapes 739 Corn 400
Cherries 670 Eggplant 390


Photo: tobkatrina/iStock

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