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A Cup of Coffee a Day Can Stave Off Eye Damage

Update Date: May 07, 2014 09:54 AM EDT

Several studies have found that drinking coffee everyday can be beneficial to one's health. In a new study, researchers added another health benefit from drinking coffee. The team found that consuming one daily cup of coffee could stave off eye diseases.

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

For this joint study out of South Korea and the United States, the research team examined a specific antioxidant found in coffee, called chlorogenic acid (CLA). Raw coffee is composed of one percent caffeine and seven to nine percent CLA. In order to test the effects of this powerful antioxidant, the researchers exposed two groups of mice to nitric oxide. The first group had been pretreated with CLA and the second group acted as the control and received no treatments.

Nitric oxide triggers oxidative stress and free radicals that can cause retinal degeneration. The retina is located at the back of the eye. It is made up of a very thin tissue that takes in and organizes visual data. The retina thrives on high levels of oxygen, which is why oxidative stress can cause tissue damage that impairs sight.

The researchers found that the CLA-treated mice had no evidence of retinal damage. The researchers are unsure whether or not drinking coffee will have the same protective effects on the eye. They believe that future studies could focus on creating a specific brew of coffee for eye health or developing eye drops that can deliver CLA safely.

The study, "Chlorogenic Acid and Coffee Prevent Hypoxia-Induced Retinal Degeneration," was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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