"Raw coffee is, on average, just one percent caffeine but it contains seven to nine percent chlorogenic acid - a strong antioxidant that prevents retinal degeneration in mice," said Chang Y Lee, a professor of food science at Cornell University.

Coffee is the most popular drink in the world, and we understand what benefit we can get from that, he added. 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", Lee noted.

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 has been published in the Journal of Agricultural ansd Food Chemistry.


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