Fatty fish may curb blindness risks for diabetics, study finds

​*Those who ate two servings weekly were 48% less likely to develop diabetic retinopathy


A new Spanish study suggests that two servings of fish a week may be enough to lower the heightened risk for blindness that those with diabetes face.

Diabetic retinopathy is a serious complication of type 2 diabetes resulting from a drop-off in blood supply to the patient’s retina.

According to lead researcher Aleix Sala-Vila, it is the most frequent cause of diabetes-related blindness.

The study was published August 18, 2016, in JAMA Ophthalmology and MedlinePlus Online.

A researcher at the Centro de Investigacion Biomedica en Red in Barcelona, Sala-Vila explained: “We wanted to [see] whether regular consumption of seafood — fatty fish in particular — in the absence of any advice to increase seafood consumption or fish oil supplementation decreased the risk of diabetic retinopathy.”

Sala-Vila’s team focused on patients whose overall diet was already composed of mostly low-fat or plant-based foods. That said, the team found that those who consumed at least two servings of fatty fish weekly had a lower risk for diabetic retinopathy than those whose diets included less fish.

Study participants were drawn from an earlier trial that had divided Spanish residents with type 2 diabetes into three different groups, each assigned to a different diet.

The first followed a low-fat diet. The second followed a Mediterranean (plant-based/red meat-free) diet, supplemented with extra virgin olive oil. And the third also followed a Mediterranean diet, supplemented by 30 grammes a day of omega-3 rich walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds.

That study found it was those in the second group who saw their vision risks fall.

Working with the same pool of participants, Sala-Vila’s team then asked about 3,600 diabetic men and women between the ages of 55 and 80 to report how often they consumed eight types of seafood before embarking on their assigned diets.

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