ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – Scientist say coffee has another positive health benefit.
A daily cup of coffee can help prevent deteriorating eyesight and possible blindness from retinal degeneration due to glaucoma, aging, and diabetes.
According to a study from Cornell University, raw coffee is just 1 percent caffeine on average, but it contains 7 to 9 percent chlorogenic acid. CLA is a strong antioxidant that prevents retinal degeneration in mice.
The retina is a layer at the back of the eyeball containing cells that are sensitive to light and that trigger never impulses that pass via the optic nerve to the brain, where a visual image is formed.
Researchers treated mice eyes with nitric oxide, which created oxidative stress and free radicals. This treatment lead to retinal degenerations but mice pretreated with CLA developed no retinal damage.
“The study is important in understanding functional foods, that is, natural foods that provide beneficial health effects,” Chang Y. lee, professor of food science, and the study’s senior author said in a press release. “Coffee is the most popular drink in the world, and we are understanding what benefit we can get from that,” Holim Jang, a graduate student in Lee’s lab, and the study’s lead author, added in the release.
Other studies have shown that coffee also helps reduce the risk of Parkinson’s, prostate cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
Researchers know that future study is needed to determine whether drinking coffee facilitates CLA to cross a membrane known as the blood-retnital barrier.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that approximately 14 million people older than the age of 12 have visual impairment.
The study was funded by the Korea Institute of Science Technology and published in the December 2013 edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.