Two servings of fish a week may be enough to lower the heightened risk for blindness that those with diabetes face, a new Spanish study suggests.
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.
“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,” explained Sala-Vila, a researcher at the Centro de Investigacion Biomedica en Red in Barcelona.
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 grams 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.