Move over carrots: Research finds that grapes may benefit eye health in older adults

Oct 12, 2023
Research has shown that grapes can potentially improve eye health in older adults. Source: Getty Images.

Almost everyone in Australia has been told at some point to load up on carrots at the dinner table, ostensibly to improve their vision. While carrots do prevent Vitamin A deficiency, which can lead to poor eyesight, the idea that they can improve eyesight and even give people better night vision has long been debunked.

It’s believed that the myth was spread by the Allies during World War 2 to cover up their use of radar technology. The ruse managed to misdirect the enemy but it appears that it may have worked a little too well.

People have been cramming down carrots for decades now when they might have been better served by eating a nice bunch of grapes instead. A recent study in Singapore has found that consuming grapes may benefit the ocular health of older adults.

As the population ages, there are two primary risk factors that begin to emerge. Natural ageing and diet create oxidative stress and high levels of ocular advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in the body. Macular Pigment Density (MPOD), which protects the eyes from damage from blue light, also decreases as people age.

Grapes naturally contain high amounts of antioxidants. The study hypothesised that their antioxidant effects would combat oxidative stress. This would reduce the production of AGEs and increase the concentration of macular pigment in the eyes.

In the 16-week, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial, thirty-four Singapore older adults were split into two randomised groups. The intervention group consumed 46g of freeze-dried grape powder a day while the placebo group consumed the same amount of placebo powder.

According to the study “Macular pigment optical density (MPOD), skin carotenoid status, advanced glycation end product (AGEs) status and dietary lutein intake were assessed every 4 weeks, and plasma lutein concentration, total antioxidant capacity and total phenolic content were measured every 8 weeks”.

These are all markers that are correlated with eye health. After the study concluded, the results were definitely promising.

The intervention group displayed a significant increase in MPOD, plasma total antioxidant capacity, and total phenolic content. In contrast, the control group displayed a significant increase in the production of AGEs which was not observed in the intervention group.

The overall increase in markers correlated with positive eye health and the lack of increase in markers correlated with poor eye health indicates that diet can counteract the effects of ageing on eye health. This means that diet can potentially be used as a tool to combat decreasing eyesight.

More research is still needed to determine the long-term health outcomes of the study.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.


Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up