Are you ready to hear one more good thing about your favorite morning wake-me-up? A new study from Cornell University suggests that drinking as little as one cup of coffee a day may help preserve your eyesight as you get older. According to the study authors, chlorogenic acid (CLA), one of the compounds in brewed coffee, appears to protect the retina from damage caused by free radicals. Free radical damage is a major cause of sight loss due to aging, diabetes and glaucoma.
In the study, researchers pre-treated the eyes of a group of mice with a solution of chlorogenic acid, then exposed them to nitric acid, which is used to create oxidative stress similar to the stress that happens with aging. The mice whose eyes had been treated with CLA suffered none of the expected eye damage.
So, does this mean you should be washing your eyes with lukewarm coffee or drinking it? Well, scientists know that our bodies do absorb and make use of CLA in the coffee we drink. What we don't know yet is whether the acid crosses the blood-retinal barrier, a thin membrane that serves as a sort of "filter" for blood and nutrients flowing into the retina through the tiny capillaries. If CLA crosses the BRB, then there's a good chance that drinking coffee really does help protect your eyes from age-related damage. It will be a matter of determining how much coffee you have to drink to actually see - no pun intended - the benefits. If it turns out that CLA doesn't cross the BRB, this new research suggests new avenues of treatment to protect eyes from age-related, perhaps with eyedrops using chlorogenic acid extracted from green coffee beans.
Even More Good Coffee Health News
The Cornell study wasn't the only good news about coffee and your health last month. We've known for some time that drinking coffee appears to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes or slow its onset. Now, researchers at Harvard University School of Public Health have found that people who increased the amount of coffee they drank reduced their risk of developing diabetes even further -- by as much as an additional 11%, according to the study published in the journal Diabetologia. The researchers analyzed data from a large survey (120,000+ respondents), looking specifically for people who changed their coffee-drinking habits during the study period. They found that those who increased the amount of coffee they drank by one or more cups of coffee reduced their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 11%. By contrast, people who reduced the amount of coffee they drank during the study period increased their risk of developing diabetes by 17%.
We're always properly skeptical about early research, even when it's good news for coffee lovers. These two studies, however, both build on previous research that seems fairly sound. We'll be interested in watching as the research continues to develop.