LIFESTYLE
07/05/2014 11:11 BST | Updated 07/05/2014 12:59 BST

Health Benefits Of Coffee: A Cup A Day Could Keep Retinal Damage Away

Coffee lovers, rejoice!

While you may have thought a much-needed energy boost was one of the only benefits of your early-morning (or mid-afternoon) caffeine fix, you may be pleased to hear that you are sadly mistaken.

According to food scientists, coffee can also help prevent deteriorating eyesight and possible blindness from retinal degeneration due to glaucoma, ageing and diabetes.

On average, raw coffee is just 1% caffeine, but it also contains 7 to 9% chlorogenic acid, which is a strong antioxidant that prevents retinal degeneration in mice.

coffee brewing

The retina is a thin tissue layer on the inside, back wall of the eye with millions of light-sensitive cells and other nerve cells that receive and organise visual information. It is also one of the most metabolically active tissues, demanding high levels of oxygen and making it prone to oxidative stress. The lack of oxygen and production of free radicals leads to tissue damage and loss of sight.

The study is "important in understanding functional foods, that is, natural foods that provide beneficial health effects," said Chang Y. Lee, professor of food science and the study's senior author. "Coffee is the most popular drink in the world, and we are understanding what benefit we can get from that."

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Previous studies have shown that coffee also cuts the risk of such chronic diseases as Parkinson's, prostate cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's and age-related cognitive declines.

The study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.