Grapes May Help Prevent or Slow Macular Degeneration

Grapes May Help Prevent or Slow Macular Degeneration

Conventional medicine is moving at warp speed, practically announcing daily how new pharmaceuticals, medical technologies and surgical breakthroughs are going to change your life. You are currently living during a type of Renaissance of the health industry which is exploding with study after study confirming many of these breakthroughs. Exciting times for conventional medicine, yet it is something as simple as natural foods that, in some cases, seem to surpass even the most effective medical remedies.

Take something as simple as grapes. This sweet fruit has long been known to hold a variety of healing properties such as heart health, diabetes support and anti-inflammatory properties. Now, with some recent research backing it up, grapes may also help prevent or slow macular degeneration.

Understanding Antioxidants

The word ‘antioxidant’ is thrown around like a volleyball at a beach barbecue. Everyone talks about the preventative qualities of antioxidants, but many have no idea what they do.

Basically, an antioxidant is a substance that is able to remove potentially damaging oxidizing agents in a living organism. Oxidizing agents can infiltrate cells, change or damage them leading to physical and mental conditions or diseases. Maintaining your antioxidants at high levels by eating antioxidant rich foods and keeping supplements in the mix has been proven to benefit systemic health. This has shown to be especially relevant for the prevention and possible slowing down of vision loss affiliated with macular degeneration.

A study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology as reported by the National Eye Institute (NEI) stated,

“High levels of antioxidants and zinc significantly reduce the risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and its associated vision loss.[] Scientists found that people at high risk of developing advanced stages of AMD, a leading cause of vision loss, lowered their risk by about 25 percent when treated with a high-dose combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc. In the same high risk group—which includes people with intermediate AMD, or advanced AMD in one eye but not the other eye—the nutrients reduced the risk of vision loss caused by advanced AMD by about 19 percent.”

This study cites research using antioxidant supplements, however adding the proper antioxidant rich foods to your diet while eliminating damaging dietary choices is also essential. This is where grapes come in.

Super Food in a Little Package

Many foods have been proven to assist in the prevention or maintenance of macular degeneration. It is the foods with large amounts of antioxidants however that have shown the most significant affect. Some of these foods are so high in natural antioxidants, they are labeled super foods, able to deliver many more times the antioxidants than some other foods.

In the largest USDA study of antioxidants (published in 2004) these were the top super foods with a reported total antioxidant capacity (TAC) of that period, per cup or half cup,

  • Small red bean (dried) – 13727
  • Wild blueberry – 13427
  • Red kidney bean (dried) – 13259
  • Pinto bean – 11864
  • Blueberry – (cultivated) 9019

Since this study, more detailed research has been able to assess other foods with even higher TAC. Now, grapes are on the super food list offering some surprising health benefits when it comes to strengthening and supporting your vision. These are the “super food in a little package” with only a cup per day needed to unleash some serious antioxidant troops.

Currently, as reported by Reader’s Digest citing WebMD, “red grapes have 2,016 total antioxidants per serving, and raisins contain 2,490”

So add raisins (dried grapes for those that didn’t know) but don’t overdo it as these are packed with more condensed sugar which can pose other problems. About a good handful per day is sufficient.

In the Eyes of the Study

Antioxidants for eye health come packed in grapes with each color holding various compounds.

Medical News Daily states some benefits,

“Grapes are high in antioxidants important for eye health such as lutein and zeaxanthin, and red grapes contain the phytochemical resveratrol in their skins, the antioxidant synonymous with wine known to lend protection from several chronic diseases and conditions. Grapes also boast the power of the flavonoids myricetin and quercetin which help the body to counter-act harmful free radical formation.”

With such high numbers of these specific antioxidants, namely resveratrol, lutein and zeaxantin researchers have applied the potential of consuming grapes to possibly helping prevent or slow macular degeneration.

One study by Dr. Silvia Finnemann of Fordham University in New York, published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine as reported by Bella Marra Health (7/26/17) states,

“…researchers have identified a super fruit with the ability to slow or even prevent vision problems, with the most common being age-related macular degeneration (AMD)…The most prominent cause of blindness in older people is AMD, which is signified by a deterioration of the macula. The macula [breaks down] over time due to oxidative damage which occurs while you age. The study proved that eating a grape-enriched diet provided enough antioxidants to combat the oxidative damage that occurs due to AMD.”

Dr. Silvia Finnemann commented on her study, “The protective effect of the grapes in this study was remarkable, offering a benefit for vision at old age even if grapes were consumed only at young age,”

An earlier study reported by the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine which was published in the journal Nutrition (4/19/16), showed that,

“a diet supplemented with grapes was able to counter damage from oxidative stress and preserve retinal structure and function in a laboratory model of retinal degeneration…The results showed that both retinal structure and function were preserved in the mice consuming the grape-enriched diet. Animals in the grape-consuming group maintained their retinal thickness, the quantity of photoreceptors, and the amount of photoreceptor activity, despite the elevated oxidative stress conditions.”

These are only two studies amongst many that have all come to one beneficial conclusion or another regarding grape consumption for vision health, particularly AMD. In lab research, the three major antioxidants found in grapes which show the most significant healing changes are:

  • Resveratrol
  • Lutein
  • Zeaxanthin

By consuming at least one cup of grapes per day or even every other day can instill this antioxidant combo which targets the retina, macula and overall eye anatomy. Scientists are still trying to figure out the explanation of this attraction.

The research proof presents strong evidence of the benefits of how grapes may prevent or slow macular degeneration. Try to choose organic grapes as the thin skin of this fruit is more prone to pesticide residue permeating into the grape membrane. Also, if you’re wondering, when it comes to the benefits of resveratrol found in red wine, the benefits also apply to macular degeneration. However, more than a half a glass per day may reverse such benefits.

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