Study Says: Eat Eggs, Prevent Macular Degeneration

Study Says: Eat Eggs, Prevent Macular Degeneration

Sometimes one of the major factors in preventing disease is what you decide to put into your body. When it comes to macular degeneration, it just may be a healthy dose of eggs that keeps you out of harm’s way or helps slow down AMD (age-related macular degeneration) already in progression. 

Add to Your Plate

You may be taking your vision for granted so sometimes real numbers will get you to sit up and pay attention to your health. 

According to Bright Focus, 

“The number of people living with macular degeneration is expected to reach 196 million worldwide by 2020 and increase to 288 million by 2040. As many as 11 million people in the United States have some form of age-related macular degeneration. This number is expected to double to nearly 22 million by 2050. The risk of getting advanced age-related macular degeneration increases from 2% for those ages 50-59, to nearly 30% for those over the age of 75.”

These stats are sobering so when it comes to your vision, don’t take it for granted. New research keeps advancing everyday, yet it is the practice of healthy eating that also works in conjunction with medical development. 

Preventing macular degeneration has been shown to correlate with eating foods sources high in antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin as well as zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, all essential  for healthy vision. Some of these sources include: 

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Squash
  • Beans
  • Nuts (especially walnuts)
  • Seeds (especially chia and flax)
  • Tofu 
  • Salmon
  • Seaweed

Now, results of a recent study show eggs to be a major potent food that could significantly advance your chances of fighting this blinding disease.

The Incredible Edible Egg

Consuming eggs has been a major food staple pretty much since the Agricultural Revolution. Currently, according to the American Egg Board, per capita egg consumption in America today is approximately 279 eggs per person per year. Break an egg into two parts and you have two very distinct nutritional pictures.

Yolk – Some people don’t eat the yolk because of the extra fat and cholesterol it adds yet others tout its nutritional benefits. Both are kind of right. According to Mastering Diabetes, “One egg yolk contains 55 calories, 4.5 grams of total fat, 1.6, grams of saturated fat, 184 milligrams of cholesterol, and small amounts of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B6, Iron and vitamin B12.” 

However, when it comes to macular degeneration, eggs are high in the vision strengthening compounds lutein and zeaxanthin. In the study, ‘Consumption of One Egg Per Day Increases Serum Lutein and Zeaxanthin Concentrations in Older Adults Without Altering Serum Lipid and Lipoprotein Cholesterol Concentrations’ by researchers at the Center for Health and Disease Research, Department of Clinical Laboratory and Nutritional Sciences, University of Massachusetts Lowell, MA and published in The Journal of Nutrition (10/06), it was reported that, 

“Lutein and zeaxanthin accumulate in the macular pigment of the retina, and are reported to be associated with a reduced incidence of age-related macular degeneration. A rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin in the American diet is the yolk of chicken eggs…These findings indicate that in older adults, 5 wk of consuming 1 egg/d significantly increases serum lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations without elevating serum lipids and lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations.”

White – Egg whites are the choice of health/weight conscious individuals that may not want or need the extra, albeit healthy, calories and fat of the yolk. However, aside from high protein, egg whites do not contain vitamins or minerals. Mastering Diabetes also reported that, “One egg white contains 17 calories, 0 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 grams of carbohydrate, and about 4 grams of protein.” 

However, The combination of the yolk and the white may be the one-two punch that can be used to help combat macular degeneration. Recent research found that eating a certain number of eggs per week may help prevent or slow macular degeneration beyond what researchers originally thought over a decade ago. 

Egg-Centric Results

The Journal of Nutrition study cited above was on the right track, so Australian researchers decided to increase this small data by studying a larger group of participants. Using data from the renowned Blue Mountain Eyes Study, within a period of 15 years 3,654 participants over the age of 49 were monitored. It was found that those who consumed two to four eggs per week had an approximately 62 percent reduced risk of developing late-stage AMD. This was compared to those who ate less than one egg per week. 

According to the Australian study results published in the journal Clinical Nutrition this past March 2019, it was stated that, 

“Total egg intake was calculated through summing up intakes in all forms e.g. boiled, poached, fried, scrambled and/or omelette. We summarized total egg consumption into the following categories: ≤1 egg/week; 2-4 eggs/week; 5-6 eggs/week; and ≥1 egg/day…Among those whose AMD onset was at or before the 10-year follow-up, consumption of 2-4 and 5-6 eggs/week was associated with 54% and 65% reduced risk of incident late AMD, respectively. When analyzed as a dichotomized [divided] variable, participants who consumed >1 egg/week versus ≤1 egg/week at baseline, had 46% reduced risk of developing late-stage AMD 15 years later,”

Bamini Gopinath, PhD, lead investigator and associate professor at the University of Sydney School of Medicine commented on the study,

“The findings of this study are therefore important as they indicate a significant and independent association between the moderate consumption of eggs and lower risk of developing late AMD,…However, there does appears to be a threshold to the benefit of egg consumption in relation to AMD risk as no added benefit was observed in those who consumed an average of one or more eggs per day.”

Overall, when kept to minimum consumption (2-6 eggs per week), beneficial results for preventing late-stage AMD were palpable. However, overconsumption was not necessary and could possibly be averse to your health due to excessive cholesterol and fat accumulation. Therefore, it is recommended that when eating eggs for better vision, less is more.