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Omega-3 Fatty Acids Linked to Reduced Risk of Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication from diabetes that is caused by the blood vessels of the retina becoming damaged, and can eventually lead to blindness. A recent study suggests that taking at least 500 mg of dietary long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (equivalent to approximately two servings of fish per week) may help decrease the risk of diabetic retinopathy.

Participants in the study included 3,614 people between the ages of 55 and 80 with previous type 2 diabetes diagnoses who took part in the Prevencion con Dieta Mediterranea clinical trial in Spain. The study compared the effects on cardiovascular health of the Mediterranean diet supplemented with either extra virgin olive oil or nuts versus a control diet.

After examining the data, the researchers found that 2,611 or 75% of the participants met the target omega-3 recommendation. During a median follow-up period of six years, 69 of the participants were diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy. After the researchers adjusted for age, sex, intervention group, lifestyle and clinical variables, they found that the participants who met the 500 mg per day or greater of omega-3s were 48% less likely to develop diabetic retinopathy.

Researchers from the Lipid Clinic in Barcelona conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on August 18, 2016, in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Omega-3s have been linked to a number of health benefits, including improved mood, improved joint mobility, reducing the risk of age related macular degeneration, and aiding your immune system.

Because omega-3 fatty-acids are not found naturally in the human body, it is especially important to make sure that they are a part of your daily diet. Oily, dark fish such as tuna and salmon are high in omega-3s. For people who don’t like fish, consider taking a daily high quality non-fish supplement that has been tested for purity and potency.

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