An orange a day keeps the eye doctor away

By: Source - Science Daily. July 12th 2018

Oranges are available all year round and in winter particularly we are advised to eat the whole fruit for its fibre and, in particular, the vitamin C content. Traditional navel oranges, Cara Cara and blood oranges are the varieties of choice at this time of year, an aside from their great taste and immune boosting qualities, scientists have discovered another compelling reason to enjoy an orange a day.

The study conducted by researchers at Sydney's Westmead Institute for Medical Research found people who regularly eat oranges are less likely to develop macular degeneration than people who do not eat oranges.

The study followed more than 2,000 Australian adults aged over 50 over a 15-year period and found that those who ate at least one serving of oranges every day had more than a 60% reduced risk of developing late macular degeneration 15 years later.

One in seven Australians over 50 have some signs of macular degeneration. Age is the strongest known risk factor and the disease is more likely to occur after the age of 50.

There is currently no cure for the disease.

Lead Researcher Associate Professor Bamini Gopinath from the University of Sydney said the data showed that flavonoids in oranges appear to help prevent against the eye disease.

"Essentially we found that people who eat at least one serve of orange every day have a reduced risk of developing macular degeneration compared with people who never eat oranges," she said.

"Even eating an orange once a week seems to offer significant benefits.

"The data shows that flavonoids found in oranges appear to help protect against the disease."

Associate Professor Gopinath said that until now most research has focused on the effects of common nutrients such as vitamins C, E and A on the eyes.

"Our research is different because we focused on the relationship between flavonoids and macular degeneration.

"Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants found in almost all fruits and vegetables, and they have important anti-inflammatory benefits for the immune system.

"We examined common foods that contain flavonoids such as tea, apples, red wine and oranges.

"Significantly, the data did not show a relationship between other food sources protecting the eyes against the disease," she said.

The research compiled data from the Blue Mountains Eye Study, a benchmark population-based study that started in 1992.

It is one of the world's largest epidemiology studies, measuring diet and lifestyle factors against health outcomes and a range of chronic diseases.

1. Bamini Gopinath Gerald Liew Annette Kifley Victoria M Flood Nichole Joachim Joshua R Lewis Jonathan M Hodgson Paul Mitchell. Dietary flavonoids and the prevalence and 15-y incidence of age-related macular degeneration. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2018 DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy114

Westmead Institute for Medical Research. "An orange a day keeps macular degeneration away: 15-year study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 July 2018. .


Jul 20 2018 1:11PM
What about drinking fresh juice, Judy? As long as you only drink one orange and say a lime with it.
Comment by: Jennifer
Jul 20 2018 4:25PM
there's no reason to add the lime juice to it Jennifer unless you prefer the taste - the reason to have the whole fruit is the added fibre and other nutrients the whole food provides - it takes two to four average sized oranges to make 1 cup so what you're getting is a lot of natural sugar and no fibre - granted you will still get the flavenoids which is good but you'll get enough of them with just one fruit
Comment by: Judy
Jul 20 2018 9:32PM
Just to play the Devil's advocate, there are a few things to consider:

Firstly, association is not causation and presumably those who regularly ate oranges also consumed a more varied diet than non-orange eaters. I would need to see far more data than is presented in the article.

Also, who funded this work? It is not uncommon for industry groups to contribute to research which helps their cause. CSR has funded research that 'proved' sugar was not harmful. A particular State agricultural group funded work on a plum that miraculously is bigger, juicier, sweeter, low in fibre and yet cures all from its massive antioxidant capacity. It may not have surprised too many people lifting the curtains that this particular plum harvest was about to be huge and the market was ill-prepared for the volumes about to become available.

Were orange growers within a sniff of this reported 'research'?

Let's look at some facts. Oranges are picked over a 4-8 week season depending on the orange-growing regions. The fruits are generally picked green and dusted with antifungal powders prior to containerised cold storage. As monthly orders by outlets come in, volumes of fruits are gas ripened or containers are shipped after ripening powder is added to the containers preparing for 'ripe' fruits arriving in time for store delivery. Some fruits would be nearing their 1st birthday off the tree before the 'fresh food people' and others take delivery.

How much nutrition is left post harvest? Not much. Ascorbic acid content could be negligible depending on growing conditions, weather during harvest, soil quality and the time the oranges spent at ambient temperature prior to entering cold storage.

Vitamin C capacity (a better measure of the real value of the nutrient) is therefore compromised as it is a net result of the presence of natural L-ascorbic acid, numerous bioflavonoids (vitamin P) including rutin and around 4,000 other compounds: folates (which aid protein breakdown in combination with Vitamin C), tyrosinase (enhances white blood cell effectiveness), Factor J (assists the transport of oxygen by red blood cells), Factor K (clotting factor) as well as Cu, Zn and Fe to provide a short list.

Many antioxidants are bound to fibre yet modern oranges have a far lower fibre content than their equivalents of 50 years ago. They are also sweeter (up to 10% total sugars), more nutrient dilute (due to water content) and they lack fat soluble antioxidants unlike wild foods. Additionally, many of the polyphenolics are in the skin and not the edible portion. Oops. Who IS funding this research?

If you want to know a far more effective, natural preventative (dare I say cure) for macular degeneration and one which does not come with a bucket-load of bad sugars, take a pinch of saffron every day. The science on this is unquestionable. It works.
Comment by: Vic
Jul 23 2018 11:58AM
Thank you for your time playing Devil's advocate Vic

I do agree that wild foods are significantly more nutrient dense than our farmed foods but few people have access to them. Yesterday I sat down to a delicious meal with nasturtium flowers picked from a patch close to where I live.
Without testing there is no doubt these flowers have more flavenoids than a farmed orange but there are not enough flowers in the patch to feed our street, let alone the village.

Which is the point. In our urbanised world with a growing population we can't survive on wild foods and we need methods to store fresh foods that ensures the food is safe to eat. The Food Coach and The Fresh Food Club recommends people eat seasonal fresh food and right now Navel oranges are in season. If you buy from a local greengrocer or farmers market there is a better chance of buying produce which is fresh and hasn't been stored for months.

Your point on the research is interesting and may well be valid. Perhaps the research was funded by an invested-interest party, nevertheless the published results must be accurate, in much the same way as any nutrient claims on a packaged product must be substantiated. The researchers could not publish the nutrient benefits of oranges without oranges containing these nutrients, and - returning to your point on storage and how storage diminishes nutrients - it's possible the people who consumed the oranges in the study ate oranges which had been stored for months.

Let me add another point to this. This year patients with Type 2 diabetes presented to Westmead hospital with scurvy, which as most of us know is a Vitamin C deficiency. Led to believe that all fresh fruit was bad they stopped eating it. In this day and age people with access to fresh fruit are avoiding it because they've been led to believe that it's bad for them. Sugar in small amounts is not the devil either. It's not so black and white. Why do people demonise fresh food when, eaten in moderation, it can only be beneficial.

The real problem is eating too much of manufactured, processed junk food.

To your point on the plum research I say congratulations to the Government who got behind their growers and supported them. They invested in research to prove the antioxidant capacity of the plum and helped sales. Wouldn't it be great if State governments across Australia supported farmers more with funding for great marketing campaigns and research to inspire the population to eat more fresh vegetables and fruit?

In utopia we would all be able to produce enough food for ourselves and forage through the bush to collect wild food for our family. But we don't live in utopia. Approximately 50% of the population is overweight or obese with some lifestyle related disease. Diabetes effects about 45% of people, more in lower socioeconomic areas. I haven't seen the research on saffron and flavonoids, but I do know that pure grade A saffron costs about $75 for 10 g, while an orange costs about 70 cents and, amongst the other nutrients mentioned in the article, also provides fibre, and energy. Without fibre the orange would have no structure.
Quite possibly, wild oranges may have been so fibrous people would have chewed on the orange to extract the juice and spat the fibre out!
Who knows - we don't live in these days.
Comment by: Judy
Jul 27 2018 9:01AM
Judy - depends on size of glass of course. One orange (bought) and one lime from my tree is all the glass I use holds. x
Comment by: Jennifer

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Jennifer on An orange a day keeps the eye doctor away :
Judy - depends on size of glass of course. One orange (... »
Judy on An orange a day keeps the eye doctor away :
Thank you for your time playing Devil's advocate Vic<br... »
Vic on An orange a day keeps the eye doctor away :
Just to play the Devil's advocate, there are a few thin... »
Judy on An orange a day keeps the eye doctor away :
there's no reason to add the lime juice to it Jennifer ... »
Jennifer on An orange a day keeps the eye doctor away :
What about drinking fresh juice, Judy? As long as you o... »
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