We’ve all been taught that carrots would keep our eyes sharp as a child, but as an adult, it looks like fruit such as apricots are even more important for keeping your sight. Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.
In this study, which involved over 100,000 women and men, researchers evaluated the effect of study participants’ consumption of fruits such as apricots among others; the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E, and carotenoids on the development of early ARMD or neovascular ARMD, a more severe form of the illness associated with vision loss. Food intake information was collected periodically for up to 18 years for women and 12 years for men.
While, surprisingly, intakes of vegetables, antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids were not strongly related to incidence of either form of ARMD, fruit intake was definitely protective against the severe form of this vision-destroying disease.
Three servings of apricots may sound like a lot to eat each day, but by simply tossing them into your morning smoothie or topping off a cup of yogurt or just snacking on them and you’ve reached this goal.
Nutrients in apricots can help protect the heart and eyes, as well as provide the disease-fighting effects of fiber. The high beta-carotene content of apricots makes them important heart health foods. Beta-carotene helps protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, which may help prevent heart disease.
Apricots contain nutrients such as vitamin A (via beta-carotene) that promote good vision. Vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, quenches free radical damage to cells and tissues. Free radical damage can injure the eyes’ lenses.
The degenerative effect of free radicals, or oxidative stress, may lead to cataracts or damage the blood supply to the eyes and cause macular degeneration. Researchers who studied over 50,000 registered nurses found women who had the highest vitamin A intake reduced their risk of developing cataracts nearly 40%.
Apricots are a good source of fiber, which has a wealth of benefits including preventing constipation and digestive conditions such as diverticulosis. But most Americans get less than 10 grams of fiber per day. A healthy, whole foods diet should include apricots as a delicious way to add to your fiber intake.
Dried Apricots a Healthy Snack
Dried apricots weigh in with more than three times the potassium content of bananas and contain only a trace of salt.
That’s good for keeping down blood pressure — potassium counters the water-retaining properties of sodium, keeping blood volume lower. Recent research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta showed that consuming more potassium than sodium is protective against high blood pressure and heart disease.
Eating apricots dried means you’re likely to eat more, so will take in more nutrients.
Mae Chan holds degrees in both physiology and nutritional sciences. She is also blogger and and technology enthusiast with a passion for disseminating information about health.