If you love your daily cup of joe, this news may make you enjoy it even more! You see, a recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that drinking coffee may have yet another health benefit: preventing retinal deterioration.
The researchers showed that coffee extract and chlorogenic acid (CGA), one of the major components in coffee that gives it its bitter taste, significantly reduced retinal cell death in in vitro and in vivo studies done on mice. So, it could very well keep your eyesight in tip-top shape as you age and even prevent blindness from conditions such as glaucoma.
The study results definitely sound promising, but you probably want to know a little more about CGA and what this study means for you on a practical level, right? Read on for the answers.
What is chlorogenic acid?
Chlorogenic acid (CGA) is a phytochemical and antioxidant. Phytochemicals are compounds found in plants. Antioxidants are substances that help prevent free radicals from wreaking havoc on your cells, so they have anti-aging benefits and also the potential to prevent disease from happening in the first place.
Does the amount of CGA vary depending on the type of coffee your drink?
Yes! CGA is found in green coffee beans at about a 6-7% concentration and a little less in roasted coffee beans according to the Autoimmune Research Foundation. Also, depending on the type of bean and the roasting temperature and time, the amount of CGA in coffee made with roasted beans seems to vary quite a bit, anywhere from 20 – 675 mg. per cup, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).
Roasted Robusta beans have the highest level of CGAs and Arabica beans have the lowest levels. So, if you’re going for a high concentration of CGAs, green coffee beans (i.e., raw beans) seem to be your best bet, followed by Robusta, and then Arabica. But, do be aware that CGA is not the only chemical in coffee. There are other chemicals to consider — some negative ones — which may affect your choice of coffee, which I’ll get into later.
What about decaffeinated coffee?
The RSC notes that decaf contains the same level of phenolic compounds — and in some cases even more — so don’t let that stop you from enjoying decaf if regular coffee gives you too much of a jolt!
But is CGA only in coffee?
No. It’s also found in high concentrations in tea (20-60 mg in an average cup), blueberries, and sunflowers seeds, and in lower concentrations in some other plants, such as potatoes, tomatoes, apples, pears, tobacco, and eggplant according to the Autoimmune Research Foundation. So, you can definitely get it from your diet in other ways.
Can you get too much CGA? Drink too much coffee?
Yes, you can. Drinking excessive amounts of coffee, such as five or six cups a day, has been linked to metabolic syndrome and excessive weight gain. Also, too much CGA has been shown to increase insulin resistance and glucose intolerance in mice studies. Therefore, it appears the benefits of CGA are dependent on how much you get. Less coffee is definitely better than more! So, share that pot of coffee with a loved one, friend, or co-worker.
Are there any other positive or negative benefits of coffee?
Coffee definitely has it perks. It’s great at improving memory and reducing the risks of developing diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and Alzheimers, but there are also some negatives associated with it. For example, the RSC notes how it contains the suspected carinogen acrylamide and the known carcinogen, 4-methylimidazole, which happens to be also found in cola drinks, by the way.
Aacrylamide seems to peak during the roasting process and is in higher concentrations in light roasts versus dark ones. In addition, Robusta espressos contain almost twice as much acrylamide as their Arabica counterparts. Therefore, it appears Robusta has more acrylamide in it, but less CGA. Whereas Arabica has less acrylamide, but more CGA. Something to think about, huh?
Coffee can simply make some people feel crappy with symptoms of shakiness and nausea. If this sounds like you, coffee may not be your best answer. Perhaps you’d do better with a cup of tea. But if you still love coffee in spite of these negative effects, you may need to alter it based on your mind-body type or constitution. Read on to discover what I mean.
What about your constitution? Does that determine how you should drink your coffee?
According to Ayurveda, an ancient form of healing, the bitter taste and stimulating effects of regular coffee may be appropriate for certain mind-body types or doshas, such as Kapha, but not fitting for others, such as Vata. One way to remedy the situation for a Vata type would be to add cream and a sweetener, and to drink the coffee before 10 am on a full stomach. For more information about an Ayurvedic approach to coffee drinking, check out this great post on Kripalu.
So, what do you think? Are you going to enjoy a cup of coffee for the health benefits?
Well, now that you got all the facts, what do you think? Are your going to keep drinking coffee and if so, what kind and how often? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
- Autoimmunity Research Foundation. Chlorogenic Acid. The Marshall Protocol Knowledge Base
- Jang H, Ahn HR, Jo H, Kim KA, Lee EH, Lee KW, Jung SH, Lee CY. (Dec. 2013; Epub ahead of print). Chlorogenic Acid and Coffee Prevent Hypoxia Induced Retinal Degeneration. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry
- Kann, Linda. Wrong Amount of Coffee Could Kill You. Perth Now
- New York Daily News. (May 2013). Five or Six Cups of Coffee a Day Linked to Metabolic Syndrome, Weight Gain
- Ramanujan, Krishna. (April 2014). A cup of coffee a day may keep retinal damage away. Cornell Chronicle
- Royal Society of Chemistry. (May 2011). Coffee: Chemistry in Every Cup
- Thrive. (July 2013). 5 Ayurvedic Rules for Coffee Drinkers. Kripalu
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