Adults who said they consume at least one serving of oranges a day had more than a 60% reduced risk of late age-related macular degeneration (AMD) 15 years later compared with those who never consumed oranges at baseline, in a recent study. The researchers, from the Westmead Institute for Medical Research in New South Wales, Australia, suggest an independent and protective association between dietary intake of flavonoids and the likelihood of having AMD.

The population-based cohort study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, interviewed 2,856 Australian adults over the age of 49 at baseline and followed up with 2,037 of them 15 years later. Each group was included in prevalence and incidence analyses, respectively.

Rather than examining the effects of commonly known antioxidants such as vitamins C, E and A and carotenoids on AMD risk and progression, the study aimed to assess the relationship between dietary intake of total flavonoids and a few common flavonoid classes (i.e., flavonols and total flavanones) with the prevalence and 15-year incidence of AMD.

The researchers found that each increase of one standard deviation in total overall flavonoid intake (as well as in total flavonols and total flavanones) was associated with a reduced likelihood of any AMD.

Researchers also observed a marginally significant trend between increasing the intake of total flavanone and hesperidin and reduced likelihood of incident late AMD.

The study examined other common foods that contain flavonoids such as tea, apples and red wine. However, the data did not show a strong relationship between other food sources.

Gopinath, B, Liew G, Kifley A, et al. Dietary flavonoids and the prevalence and 15-y incidence of age-related macular degeneration. Am J Clin Nutr. July 6, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].