Could a daily cup of boiled Greek coffee be the secret to a longer life? Picture:Dimitrios Rizopoulos/shutterstock.com
The elderly inhabitants of the Greek island Ikaria boast some of the highest rates of longevity in the world, and now scientists believe that the secret may lie not just in their heart-healthy Mediterranean diet but in their daily caffeine fix.
In a new study in the journal Vascular Medicine, researchers from the University of Athens Medical School found a link between the good cardiovascular health of the island's elders and the boiled Greek coffee they drink daily.
Only 0.1% of Europeans live to be over 90, the researchers said, yet on Ikaria, the figure is 1%, with the islanders tending to live out their long lives in good health.
From a sample of 673 Ikarians aged over 65 who lived on the island permanently, the researchers randomly selected 71 men and 71 women to take part in the study. Medical staff checked for high blood pressure, diabetes, and other ailments, and subjects answered detailed questionnaires about their medical health, lifestyle, and coffee habits. In addition, the researchers tested their endothelial functioning -- the endothelium is a layer of cells that lines blood vessels, which is affected both by aging and by lifestyle habits, such as smoking.
Prior studies have suggested that moderate coffee consumption could not only reduce the risks of coronary heart disease but have a positive impact on several aspects of endothelial health, the researchers said.
The researchers investigated all types of coffee that the subjects imbibed -- but interestingly more than 87 percent of those in the study consumed boiled Greek coffee daily. Subjects who drank mainly boiled Greek coffee had better endothelial function than those who consumed other types of coffee. Even in those with high blood pressure, boiled Greek coffee consumption was linked with improved endothelial function.
"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," says lead researcher Dr. Gerasimos Siasos.