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Coffee May Save Eyesight and 4 More Surprising Benefits

Coffee may help save eyesight

Researchers at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, found that a raw coffee bean contains about 7-9 percent chlorogenic acid (CGA), an antioxidant that has previously been associated with weight loss and blood pressure reduction.

In a new study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers examined the retina, a thin layer at the back of the eyeball that contains light-sensitive cells that are responsible for receiving and organizing visual information, which is prone to oxygen deprivation (hypoxia).

"The retina is one of the most metabolically active tissues in the body, consuming oxygen more rapidly than any other tissues, including the brain," the researchers said.

"Therefore, it is susceptible to a variety of diseases caused by oxidative stress, including age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma - all of which can lead to partial or complete blindness."

The researchers induced retinal damage in mice using a process called optic nerve crush and tested the effects of CGA and coffee extract. They found that both CGA and coffee extract reduced the death of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) by preventing down-regulation of the cell surface protein Thy-1.

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“This study shows that CGA and coffee extract are responsible for reduction of the RGC apoptosis induced by hypoxia and nitric oxide," the researchers said. "Therefore, coffee consumption may provide additional health benefits by preventing retinal degeneration.”

Preserving eyesight is just one of the many benefits of coffee that researchers have found in recent years.

May lower risk of diabetes

Last month, a study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that men and women who increased their daily coffee consumption by one cup over a four-year period had an 11 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared to people who did not increase their coffee intake. Conversely, those who reduced the amount of coffee they consumed daily had a 17 percent greater risk for type 2 diabetes.

May reduce risk of death from cirrhosis

A study published in the journal Hepatology suggested that two or more cups of coffee a day could lower the risk of death from cirrhosis of the liver by 66 percent, compared with those who didn't drink coffee.

Reduces risk of liver cancer

Similarly, Italian researchers found that drinking a cup of coffee daily may reduce the risk of liver cancer by about 40 percent. Three cups a day may reduce the risk by 50 percent.

May reduce Alzheimer’s risk

A 2012 study led by Dr. Chuanhai Cao, a neuroscientist at the University of South Florida (USF) College of Pharmacy and the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer's Institute, found that the blood caffeine levels of participants who had mild cognitive impairment (MCI) that progressed to dementia during a two-to-four year follow-up were 51 percent lower than those whose MCI stayed stable during the same time period. The participants with MCI who had blood caffeine levels greater than 1,200 ng/ML – the equivalent of several cups of coffee – did not progress to Alzheimer’s disease during the follow-up period.