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Grapes are great for your eyes and could reduce risk of blindness later in life

Grapes on a white background. Isolated bunch.

Carrots? No, it’s grapes that are great for your eyes – and could reduce the risk of blindness later in life

  • Grapes are rich in antioxidants that protect healthy cells from DNA damage
  • Research shows adding them to the diet preserves retinal health
  • Another study shows that eating the fruit can help prevent weight gain

New research shows that eating grapes is good for the eyes and could reduce the risk of going blind later in life. Generations of children have had to be cajoled into eating their carrots with the promise that the vegetables are good for their eyesight. Now new research has delivered a much sweeter deal, revealing that eating grapes is good for the eyes and could reduce the risk of going blind later in life.

The fruit protects against a chemical process known as oxidative stress, which releases harmful molecules called free radicals into the retina, the study found. Grapes are rich in antioxidants that protect healthy cells from DNA damage and it is believed these compounds are behind the eyesight benefits.

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The retina is the part of the eye that contains cells that respond to light, known as photoreceptors. Degenerative diseases of the retina can cause blindness. Professor Abigail Hackam, of the University of Miami in the US, which carried out the research, said: ‘Adding grapes to the diet actually preserved retinal health in the presence of oxidative stress in this study.’

The research, published in the journal Nutrition, found grapes were able to counter damage from oxidative stress and preserve the function and structure of the retina in a laboratory model. Elevated oxidative stress is strongly associated with retinal disease and has been widely studied in the development of age-related macular degeneration and other eye conditions.

In the study, mice were fed either freeze-dried whole grape powder – the equivalent of about three servings a day for humans – a diet with the same level of sugar, or a standard research control diet. The results showed that both retinal structure and function were preserved in the group eating the grape-enriched diet.

Adding grapes to the diet actually preserved retinal health in the presence of oxidative stress in this study
Professor Abigail Hackam, of the University of Miami

Mice in this group maintained their retinal thickness, the quantity of photoreceptors and the amount of photoreceptor activity, despite high oxidative stress. In the non-grape eaters, retinas were damaged, displaying holes and lesions, and there was a significant decrease in thickness.
There was also a 40 per cent reduction in photoreceptors and significant loss of photoreceptor activity.

Professor Hackam said: ‘These results are very exciting and build on the growing evidence that suggests a very real benefit for grape consumption and eye health.’ The retina is the part of the eye that contains cells that respond to light, known as photoreceptors. Degenerative diseases of the retina can cause blindness

Widely recognised as a superfood, grapes are packed with vitamins C and K and beta- carotene, which help rid the body of free radicals, by-products of oxygen use that cause cellular damage. Previous research by scientists at the University of Glasgow found that the antioxidant benefits of drinking purple grape juice could also reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Another study, by scientists at Washington State University, found that eating grapes can help prevent weight gain.
They contain a compound called resveratrol – also found in blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and apples – that converts bad, white fat in the body into good ‘beige fat’, which burns up calories.

Published: 11 March 2016.By Daily Mail
© Associated Newspapers Ltd

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