Something in boiled Greek coffee might lead to a longer healthier life


2013-03-19 22:20

In an effort to find secrets to a long and healthy life, researchers often turn to groups of populations who live the longest. Inhabitants of Ikaria, the Greek island have the longest lifespans in the world, leading scientists to look closely at what factors help them live longer and healthier lives. The secret might be boiled Greek coffee, they concluded.

Blood vessels healthier for Greek coffee drinkers

The researchers found Greek coffee improves endothelial function, which might account for why it seems to promote health and longevity. The study, according to the authors, may be the first to look at coffee consumption and its effect on blood vessel function among elders with cardiovascular risk factors.

The island has been a source of interest because of the unusually long lifespan the inhabitants enjoy. They also ingest medicinal herbs, teas and honey that cannot be found elsewhere in the world, according to a New York Times piece written last year and have low stress levels.

One percent of Inhabitants of the Ikaria live to be 90 and in good health compared to just 0.1 percent of the general population of Europe.

Researchers specifically found boiled Greek coffee improves endothelial function. The endothelium is the inner lining of the blood vessels. Endothelial health implies healthy blood vessels that constrict and relax normally. When blood vessels are diseased, diabetes, heart attack, stroke and other chronic problems ensue.

Gerasimos Siasos, a medical doctor and professor at the University of Athens Medical School, Greece and his team decided to look at whether coffee could explain the long life of the islanders because coffee has been associated with vascular health, but not conclusively.

The scientists randomly selected 71 men and 71 women, age 66 to 91, who lived on the island permanently for the study. Eighty-seven percent regularly drank Greek coffee; 40% had ‘low’ consumption; 48% ‘moderate’ and 13% ‘high’ amount daily.

The participants answered questionnaires about lifestyle, medical health and coffee consumption. They also underwent routine health screenings including blood pressure measurements, and cholesterol and diabetes and endothelial function testing.

Compared to people who drank regular coffee, endothelial function was better among boiled Greek coffee drinkers, even among those with hypertension. Boiled Greek coffee had no negative impact on blood pressure. For the study, all types of coffee including instant, boiled coffee, ‘cappuccino’ or filtered were taken into account.

Siasos says, "Boiled Greek type of coffee, which is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants and contains only a moderate amount of caffeine, seems to gather benefits compared to other coffee beverages. “

The researchers say more studies are needed to understand how drinking coffee impacts health. Greek coffee might be a healthy nutritional approach that could lead to a longer life, based on the observational study.

Vasc Med 1358863X13480258, first published on March 18, 2013 as doi:10.1177/1358863X13480258

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Updated December 28, 2013