Apples have long been touted as the fruit ‘to keep the doctor away’ but now oranges may be muscling up on their status, as new research has shown regularly eating oranges may significantly help in reducing a person’s risk of macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration is the name given to a group of retinal eye diseases that cause progressive loss of central vision.

According to the Macular Disease Foundation, it is the leading cause of blindness in Australia and impacts about one in seven people over the age of 50.

Researchers with the Westmead Institute for Medical Research analysed the diet of 2,000 Australians over the age of 50 for a 15 years period, focusing on how their diet related to their risk of age-related vision impairment.

While the research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the whole diet, it was the consumption of oranges in particular that stood out.

Vitamin C not the hero

Lead researcher Bamini Gopinath, who works at the University of Sydney, said people who ate one to two servings of oranges a day had a 60 per cent reduced risk of macular degeneration.

Dr Gopinath said what may be surprising to people was that it was not the fruit’s Vitamin C content producing the favourable results, but instead they believe it was flavonoids in the oranges.

“In our analysis we accounted for Vitamin C intake and the association persisted even after we accounted for that,” Dr Gopinath said.

“So we know it’s not to do with the Vitamin C in oranges. We can speculate it’s likely to be the flavonoids or it’s something else in oranges.

“But because the study is observational it’s very difficult to say [what exactly causes it].”

Flavonoids are dietary compounds found in a range of food groups and beverages that have been shown to reduce inflammation and oxidated stress within the body.

Dr Gopinath said the results were exciting and very novel, but reiterated the research was still very preliminary and more studies needed to be done to hone in on the links to oranges and macular degeneration.

“We’re advocating for a more healthy diet in general and oranges could be a part of that.”

Dr Gopinath presented the results at an international conference earlier in the year and said other researchers had similar findings.

The more the merrier for orange industry

The research is not just good for the health industry, with the orange industry also pleased with the research findings.

Shane Edgar from citrus wholesaler Grove & Edgar is a proud Your Local Greengrocer member who sells directly to independent retailers in Sydney markets looking for premium, in-season oranges. Groves & Edgar currently source Navels from Jumaluk – a premium citrus grower in Waikerie, South Australia.

(Pictured: Thomas Cave from Roy Cave & Sons)

“Oranges tend to be popular at this time of year because they are tasting great and there isn’t a lot of competition with other produce lines such as stone fruits.” Said Shane.

Speaking on the results of this study, Shane is optimistic that anything showing the benefits of oranges would help in promoting the citrus fruit.

“Citrus already has so many health benefits so to add another one to the list is great news for customers and our industry.”

Original article by ABC News


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