Go Ahead, Drink that Cup of Joe! It’s Good for Your Eyes

If you love your daily cup of joe, this news may make you enjoy it even more!  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. But the kind of coffee you drink and how much you drink are two important factors to consider.

If you love your daily cup of joe, this news may make you enjoy it even more! 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. But the kind of coffee you drink and how much you drink are two important factors to consider.

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!


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15 thoughts on “Go Ahead, Drink that Cup of Joe! It’s Good for Your Eyes

  1. Leanne Chesser

    I love my coffee. I’ve stopped and started over the years, but I’ve chosen to drink a cup or two every day. I enjoy it and I agree that there are certain health benefits as well as things that aren’t so good.

  2. Dawn Golden

    Must admit, I have picked up a two-cup-a-day habit! Add to that two or sometimes three really big and strong cups of tea a day… I should hardly ever sleep! Then sometimes I get my ‘MoJo’ on with a healthy energy drink and iced coffee product. Comes in particularly handy on a long drive. Sadly, on the average day I drink whatever Maxwell-house or Folgers decides. Wish I knew more about coffee beans and the art of a good or healthy blend. Thanks for the great info.

  3. Dr. Erica Goodstone


    I love my coffee and have not given it up in spite of hearing lots of negatives about it over the years. One common statement was that coffee drinking depletes many of our vitamins. Haven’t heard that addressed or mentioned in a long time. Also, recently I heard that not only the type of coffee bean but all the details of its growth and preparation make a difference. For my home, I buy organic coffee. But when I eat at restaurants, who knows? I do notice a marked difference in the flavor of coffee (not just the supplement of vanilla or something else) but the texture, strength and clarity of the coffee.

    I am so glad that coffee does, in fact, have some redeeming qualities. I love sipping my morning coffee – and sometimes at lunch too.


    Dr. Erica

  4. Leslie Denning

    Hi Karen. Coffee is one of those things that have been bad-good-bad-good-bad over my lifetime, and I guess it’s on the good list now.

    Before I became a Latter-Day Saint, I was HUGE coffee drinker – as much as 10 cups a day. I loved it since I was a child, drinking the dregs out of people’s cups on the sly. Back then, it was made in a percolator, and I even loved chewing the grounds! I quit cold turkey when I was baptized, and I don’t even think about it except to politely decline when someone offers me some.

    It’s not like cigarettes – I still get the hankering to smoke, even though I quit 38 years ago. Guess I’ll never get over that addiction.

    Hope my retinas can survive without coffee. Thanks for an interesting post.

    All the best,

  5. Willena Flewelling

    I like coffee, but I don’t like it black, so what I put in it likely affects the results given in your post.

    I never started drinking it until about seven years ago, shortly after I learned that I have ADHD. I don’t want to be on medication, and someone suggested that coffee may help. It seems strange. How can a stimulant help calm down someone with ADHD? But it does. In fact, coffee doesn’t wake me up — it’s more likely to put me to sleep! When I started drinking it, I found it gave me mental clarity, which helped a lot.

    Just my thoughts.

  6. Beverly Knox

    Hi Karen I never knew coffee with splenda and cream would effect your diabetes. I was looking at what I was adding not what is in the product. Good information.

  7. Marty Diamond

    I love my morning cup of coffee – and go for the dark french roast so I still get that wonderful taste…. we like it dark & strong up here in the Pacific NW 🙂 I’ve always felt that I got more good than bad out of my morning cup – now it’s confirmed – Thanks

  8. Julieanne van Zyl

    Hi Karen, I’ve never liked the taste of coffee – right from when I tried iced coffee as a teenager. My parents used to drink the iced coffee in the summer and in the winter, they’d have the coffee machine on all the time. I didn’t mind the smell of it luckily.

    I do like tea though, green tea. And, I drink a healthy energy drink twice a day, which has probably more caffeine than a cup of coffee. But, it also have a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals, as well as mangosteen, so it’s much better for me than coffee.

  9. Andrewson

    Hi Karen, thanks for the article. It’s wonderfully well researched. I don’t drink coffee myself so it’s great to know that I still can get similar eye benefits through tea and sunflower seeds of which both I take plenty.

  10. nick catricala

    appreciate all your hard work to research all this info about coffee… I do not agree that 100% that drinking coffee can be good for so many things, but I may agree that coffee may be good for something.

    I quit drinking coffee long time a go.. and when I did quit, I found out it was an addiction and so from my point of view anything that cause addiction I rather pass..

    Thanks so much again for your effort to share some great info that may help some people… and I hope it does.

    Be well in every way.

  11. Rachel Lavern@Online Biz Boomer Babe

    I fell into the ‘bad’ habit of drinking coffee about a year ago. You see, I found that the environment where I work is so very important and has a huge impact on my productivity and creativity. I began going to one of my favorite coffee shops every time I need to write and I found that everything just flows so much better when I am there. And, it all flowed even better with a large cup of coffee. I do intend to wean myself off of it because I have read so many conflicting reports about its benefits and negative effects.

  12. Holly

    Well I am not a coffee drinker… but I have to ask… it says in one paragraph that Coffee may help cause metabolic syndrome.. but a few paragraphs later it says it helps prevent Type II Diabetes… If you generally go through metabolic syndrome (perhaps never even diagnosed) before you get to Type II Diabetes.. how can coffee cause one but prevent the other? As I understand it, Metabolic syndrome is just a lead up step that we get before they Doctor will diagnose us with Type II Diabetes… Interesting!!

    1. Well Gal Post author

      Hi Holly. In the section, “Can you get too much CGA? Drink too much coffee?,” I note how the research shows that the amount of coffee you drink (which is also related to the amount of CGA you take in) is what determines whether it has a positive or negative effect on your body. If you take in too much, which is about 5-6 cups of coffee per day, you can set yourself up for insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, which can then lead to problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. So, yes, you are right. One does lead to the other.

      Then there are studies that show that coffee can help prevent diabetes and even in some cases lose weight! So, there are definitely studies with different results. Confusing, I know.

      But my take-away from the research is that it’s okay to enjoy that daily cup of coffee if it works for you, but not just to go overboard. And also the kind you drink is important.

      I myself am a tea drinker and prefer to get my caffeine and CGA in small doses, so my goal was to touch upon the research so that you can decide what is best for you!

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