A new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds that the consumption of flavonoids can help protect against the age-related loss of central vision, known as macular degeneration (AMD.) Known for their powerful antioxidant properties, flavonoids are a type of bioactive found in abundance in fruits and vegetables (including 100% juices.) Flavonoids are particularly prevalent in oranges and orange juice.
The study followed approximately 3,000 Australian adults aged 50 and older over a 15-year period. Researchers used a food frequency questionnaire to assess dietary intake, and measured flavonoid content using the USDA Flavonoid, Isoflavone, and Proanthocyanidin databases. Macular degeneration was evaluated using retinal photographs.
The research found that each increase in total overall flavonoid intake was linked to the reduced likelihood of AMD. Participants who reported consuming one or more servings of orange juice per day were 65% less likely to have early AMD compared to those who did not consume orange juice. Additionally, consumption of one or more oranges per day or per week was also associated with a 58 to 61% lower risk of having AMD, respectively.
Furthermore, over a 15-year period, researchers observed modest associations between a combined increase of flavonoid and hesperidin intake and a lower likelihood of developing vision loss. Hesperidin is the most common flavonoid found in citrus fruit.
Overall, the results suggest a protective effect of the habitual intake of oranges and orange juice on the progression and prevention of AMD in older adults. In fact, the authors suggest that adequate intakes of fruit (particularly oranges), vegetables, and beverages (i.e. orange juice) containing flavonoids may be recommended to people at risk for AMD.
Along with their protective effect, lead researcher Bamini Gopinath from the University of Sydney emphasizes that flavonoids also have important anti-inflammatory benefits for the immune system.
Looking for an easy way to boost your flavonoid intake? Grab a glass of 100% juice. To learn about more health-boosting compounds found in your glass, check out our Health Benefits page. Interested in sharing the knowledge? Download our Registered Dietitian Toolkit for all of the science-backed nutrition information you need.