Coffee can not only keep your eyes wide open, it may also help prevent blindness, according to a new Cornell University study.
Just one cup a day could help prevent deteriorating eyesight from retinal degeneration due to glaucoma, aging or diabetes. The key ingredient is a potent antioxidant called chlorogenic acid that has been shown to prevent retinal degeneration in mice. Raw coffee, on average, contains 1 percent caffeine, but 7-9 percent chlorogenic acid.
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 organize visual information, according to Cornell. "It is also one of the most metabolically active tissues, demanding high levels of oxygen and making it prone to oxidative stress," the university said in a statement "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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The study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Previous studies have shown that the wunderbrew also cuts the risk of such chronic diseases as cardiovascular disease Parkinson's, prostate cancer, diabetes, liver disease, Alzheimer's and age-related cognitive decline.
At the very least, this study shows that coffee prevents blind mice - but it may be good for that nasty farmer's wife, too.