May 12, 2009
Eye Aging Slowed By Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Eyesight is a terrible thing to waste. Choose your oils wisely. Then look at beautiful things.

Regularly eating fish, nuts, olive oil and other foods containing omega-three fatty acids and avoiding trans fats appears to be associated with a lower risk for the eye disease age-related macular degeneration, according to two reports in the May issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

By 2020, as many as 3 million Americans are expected to have late-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to background information in one of the articles. AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss among individuals older than 65 in the developed world. Established risk factors include age, genetic markers and smoking (the only consistently reported modifiable risk factor).

In one report, Jennifer S.L. Tan, M.B.B.S., B.E., of Westmead Hospital, University of Sydney, Australia, and colleagues studied 2,454 participants in the Blue Mountains Eye Study, which began in 1992 to 1994. At that time, participants completed a food frequency questionnaire that was analyzed to determine their intake of various fatty acids. Digital photographs of the retina were used to assess the development of AMD five and 10 years later.

After adjusting for age, sex and smoking, eating one serving of fish per week was associated with a 31 percent lower risk of developing early AMD. The association was stronger among individuals with a lower intake of linoleic acid, an unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid found primarily in vegetable oils. Eating one to two servings of nuts per week was associated with a 35 percent lower risk of early AMD.

My question: Can one scale up one's omega 3 consumption to counterbalance the effects of consuming larger amounts of omega 6 fatty acids?

I periodically tweak my diet to improve it in various ways. One of my recent additions is to use olives as condiments on my lunch. I am guessing that the whole olives are more beneficial than just the olive oil since the olives will contain more of the non-oil compounds that are suspected of delivering additional health benefits. Get the beneficial oils but with more other good stuff.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 May 12 07:25 AM  Aging Diet Eye Studies

jay said at May 12, 2009 8:16 AM:

It doesn't answer your question, but a recent study on heart health found that there was an optimal consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids, and the benefit to heart health ameliorated to zero with a higher consumption of the Omega-3. Disappointing, to say the least.

Eric said at May 12, 2009 10:58 AM:

The oils come from the olive seed I think. I am not sure if the flesh contains a significant ammount.

Sanjay said at May 12, 2009 2:25 PM:

I always go to the source. I prefer fruits over fruit juice, olives over olive oil, etc, etc. I have heard the ketchup and tomato sauce are healthier than tomatoes, because they are concentrates.

John F. said at May 13, 2009 2:45 PM:

Olive oil is extracted from the flesh of the fruit, not the pit.

Randall Parker said at May 13, 2009 7:08 PM:


Take a whole olive including the seed. It is almost one third oil and that oil is in the flesh.


Tomatoes are an exception because the cell walls hold a lot of nutrients we can't digest. Those cell walls get broken down to release the nutrients when paste is made. I eat tomato paste.

Z River said at May 23, 2009 11:21 AM:

How much Tomato Paste is enough? Once on TV someone did an experiment having people eat tomato paste to either help their vision or cholesterol but it was so long ago can't remember which it was. It did seem to help--and one did not have to eat a lot of the paste--2 or 3 Tablespoons ?--not sure. If anyone remembers this please correct my info. As for Olives--should they be green or black and just the ordinary bottled kind? I don't understand the issue between the Omega 3 and 6 problem. If anyone reads this can they explain? Also Jay--what is this optimal amount of Omega 3s. No sense in taking too much. I will check back several days to see if anyone can answer me.

S. J said at June 15, 2009 2:32 AM:

Z River,

It was on the bbc,about three years ago and people were eating only 3 tablespoons a day. It did almost stop the eyes getting worse.

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