If you love your morning coffee, you are in luck. According to a Cornell study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the chemical constituents of coffee can help prevent the deterioration of eyesight and possible blindness due to retinal damage caused by aging, glaucoma, and diabetes.
It isn’t the caffeine in coffee that helps you see straight, comprising only 1 percent of raw coffee, on average, but the chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant that has extreme health-boosting properties.
Chlorogenic acid is a conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which has anti-carcinogenic, anti-atherosclerotic, and anti-oxidizing properties in the body. It turns out that chlorogenic acid also helps to support the retinal tissue – a thin layer across the eyes and back wall which has millions of light-sensitive cells and important nerve cells which help communicate what we ‘see’ to the brain.
Retinal tissue is also highly metabolic, requiring high levels of oxygen, which can make it prone to oxidative stress, or the detriment of free radicals. It is free radicals that eventually damage the tissues and cause sight deterioration. CLA is likely effective due to its antioxidant levels, since antioxidants are known to inhibit oxidation. There is even a world conference where scientists meet just to discuss antioxidants and oxidative stress; the issue is paramount to human health.
The Cornell study, funded by the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, found that mice eyes treated with nitric oxide (a substance which creates oxidative stress) led to retinal degeneration, but mice pre-treated with chlorogenic acid developed no retinal damage at all. The acid is also used by body builders to rebuild muscle.
Yet again, natural foods prove to be effective at providing beneficial health effects. Chang Y. Lee, professor of food science and the study’s senior author says, “Coffee is the most popular drink in the world, and we are understanding what benefit we can get from that.”
Previously conducted studies on java have found that it also reduces the risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, prostate cancer, and other neurodegenerative disorders. Check out the coffee health benefits here.
Scientists now know that CLA and its metabolites can be absorbed by the human digestive system, but the next step might be to see if it will be absorbed directly by the retinal tissue itself – making way for coffee compresses or eye-washes and eye-drops.
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Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.