We’ve all heard that the Mediterranean diet is good for your heart and may even offer some protection against cancer, but what about your eye health? A new study recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology has found that people who follow the mediterranean diet may be up to one-third less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness.

The report revealed that higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with lower AMD risk, and only 39 percent of those who followed the diet closely developed AMD, compared to about 50 percent of those who did not follow it closely. The researchers found that fruits were especially important for good eye health, and people who ate about five ounces of fruit a day were 15 percent less likely to have AMD. In addition, the report also revealed that caffeine and antioxidants were protective for eye health. Of those who consumed high levels of caffeine (about 78 mg a day, or the equivalent of one shot of espresso): 54.4 percent did not have AMD and 45.1 percent had AMD.

"This research adds to the evidence that a healthy, fruit-rich diet is important to health, including helping to protect against macular degeneration," said lead study author Rufino Silva, in a recent statement.

To gather this research, the team studied 883 people aged 55 and older in central Portugal between 2013 and 2015. In order to measure how closely the individuals adhered to the Mediterranean diet, they were asked how often they ate certain foods and received a score from 0-9 depending on their replies, with 9 being the strictest adherence.

According to Eating Well, the Mediterranean diet is abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and olive oil. It also favors fish and poultry over red meat. In addition to protecting eye health, the diet is also associated with better control of blood sugar, lower risk of depression, and reduced levels of inflammation.

Source: Silva R. Fruit-rich mediterranean diet with antioxidants may cut AMD risk by more than a third. 120th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Ophthalmology. 2016

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