Cataracts contribute to more than half of the blindness incidences globally. Diets with more antioxidants are thought to help prevent cataracts, so in this study, researchers wanted to see how vegetarian diets relate to cataract risk. A total of 4,436 Taiwanese participants (1,341 vegetarians and 3,095 non-vegetarians) free of cataracts at the time of recruitment were followed for approximately six years. After evaluating the development of cataracts among all participants, the researchers discovered that vegetarians had a 20% lower risk of cataracts than non-vegetarians. This relationship was strongest among people whose BMI is greater than 24 (overweight and nearly overweight individuals). Vegetarians tend to consume more soy, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, dietary ﬁber, vitamin C, folate, and vitamin A compared to non-vegetarians, so these nutritious foods and nutrients may have also impacted the lower risk of cataracts.
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2020 Dec 11;S2212-2672(20)31428-3. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2020.11.003 (Chiu THT et al.)