Background & aims: Habitual food and nutrient intakes of 140 Indian cataract patients and 100 age- and sex-matched controls (50-75 years), from high income group and low income groups, were assessed. Methods: Food intake was recorded by food frequency questionnaire and data were examined for linkages with blood/lens parameters of oxidative stress through a case-control study. Results: Intake of animal foods and fried snacks was significantly higher while vegetables, green leafy vegetables, fruit, tea and micronutrient intakes were lower in patients than in controls (p < 0.001). Lens oxidative stress and opacity showed a significant negative association with fruit intake (p < 0.05). Multiple regression analysis indicated association of intakes of iron, beta-carotene, ascorbic acid, tannic acid and inositol pentaphosphate with plasma oxidative stress (p < 0.01) and association of intakes of iron, ascorbic acid and inositol triphosphate with lens oxidative stress (p < 0.01). Weighted least square regression for lens opacity revealed that intakes of ascorbic acid, folic acid and inositol pentaphosphate explained 59.7% of the total variation (p < 0.01). Conclusions: Dietary deficiency of antioxidant micronutrients was greater for patients than controls. Deficiency of beta-carotene, ascorbic acid, folic acid, iron, phytate and polyphenols increased oxidative stress in blood and lens. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd and European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism.
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