A recent randomized, controlled human study spanning 16 weeks has demonstrated significant improvements in key markers of eye health among older adults who consumed grapes regularly.
Published in Food & Function, this study explored the effects of grape consumption on macular pigment accumulation and other eye health biomarkers. Notably, this marks the first human study in this area, affirming earlier preliminary research that found grapes to be protective of retinal structure and function.
As the aging population faces a heightened risk of eye diseases and vision issues, factors such as oxidative stress and elevated levels of ocular advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are key risk factors. AGEs can contribute to various eye diseases by harming the retinal vascular components, impairing cellular function, and inducing oxidative stress.
Dietary antioxidants have the potential to reduce oxidative stress and inhibit AGE formation, potentially benefiting the retina by enhancing Macular Pigment Optical Density (MPOD). Grapes, known as a natural source of antioxidants and polyphenols, were the focus of this new study.
In the study, 34 participants consumed either grapes (equivalent to 1.5 cups per day) or a placebo for 16 weeks. The grape consumers exhibited significant increases in MPOD, plasma antioxidant capacity, and total phenolic content when compared to the placebo group. Conversely, those who did not consume grapes experienced a notable rise in harmful AGEs, as indicated by skin measurements.
"Our study is the first to show that grape consumption beneficially impacts eye health in humans which is very exciting, especially with a growing aging population," said Dr. Jung Eun Kim. "Grapes are an easy, accessible fruit that studies have shown can have a beneficial impact in normal amounts of just 1.5 cups per day."
Weili Hu et al, Impacts of regular consumption of grapes on macular pigment accumulation in Singapore older adults: a randomized controlled trial, Food & Function (2023). DOI: 10.1039/D3FO02105J