Foods rich in the vitamin can help prevent cataracts, according to a new study.

James Oliver Cury
March 24, 2016

If you eat foods with a lot of vitamin C, congratulations: You are well on your way to preventing all kinds of ailments—cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, and even skin wrinkling. Now a new study published in the journal Opthalmology says you can add cataracts to the list.

Researchers at King's College London set out to determine two things: whether or not vitamin C has an impact on cataracts (the number one cause of blindness) and how much environmental factors (like diet) matter compared to genetics.

The study the put together is simple but required the participation of 1,000 pairs of female twins and 10 years of time. The women, aged 60 during the first phase of the tests, answered questions about their diet, which revealed levels of vitamin C, as well as vitamins A, B, D, E, copper, manganese and zinc. Then the opacity of their lenses was measured via a digital imaging device. Ten years later, 324 pairs of the women measured in the first phase were re-examined.

The finding: Women who reported eating more vitamin C-rich foods were 33 percent less likely to develop cataracts. As for the nature-nurture angle: The study suggests that genetic factors make up 35 percent of the difference in cataract progression, while environmental factors—like diet—account for 65 percent. The takeaway: genetics may be less important in cataract development than we previously thought. So diet really matters.

Here's what you should be eating to maximize your vitamin C: cantaloupe, citrus fruits (orange and grapefruit), kiwi, mango, papaya, pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and watermelon. May we suggest this Flaky Blood Orange Tart?