Gerasimos Siasos, a professor at the University of Athens Medical School, and colleagues set out to discover the secrets of the inhabitants of the Greek island Ikaria – home to the highest rates of longevity in the world. While only 0.1 percent of all Europeans live to be 90 years of age, the number of Ikaria residents who are at leastnonagenarians is ten times that amount.
While many researchers have studied the island’s elderly residents seeking Ikaria’s proverbial fountain of youth, Siasos set out to investigate if the secret was the boiled Greek coffee that they regularly imbibe. He and his associates set out to determine what impact that their special blend of the popular caffeinated beverage had on the health of the island’s populace. Specifically, whether or not there was a correlation between it and the subjects’ endothelial function.
The endothelium is a thin layer of cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels throughout a person’s circulatory system. They are often affected by aging and by specific lifestyle habits (including smoking), the researchers explained. Recent research has suggested that moderate coffee consumption on a regular basis could positively affect multiple aspects of endothelial health, as well as reducing a person’s risk of coronary heart disease.
For their study, Siasos and his colleagues randomly selected 71 men and 71 women who were over the age of 65 and had lived on Ikaria for their entire lives. Each was put through a battery of health checks in order to make sure that they did not suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, or similar ailments. Their endothelial function was also tested, and all subjects completed a questionnaire to provide details about their medical backgrounds, their lifestyle information and their coffee-drinking habits.
More than 87 percent of those who responded to those questionnaires said that they drank boiled Greek coffee every day, and those individuals tended to have better endothelial function than those who consumed other varieties of coffee, the researchers discovered. Furthermore, even in patients who had high blood pressure, there was a correlation between drinking the boiled version of the caffeinated beverage and 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,” Siasos said in a statement. While the study suggests that boiled Greek coffee could have cardiovascular health benefits, the researchers caution that additional studies will be required to determine the exact beneficial mechanisms of the beverage on a person’s wellbeing.