The new study – led by researchers at the University of Athens Medical School, Greece – suggests that consumption of Greek coffee may hold a clue to the superior vascular health and longevity of the elderly inhabitants of the Greek island Ikaria.
Published in Vascular Medicine, Professor Gerasimos Siasos and his team investigated links between coffee-drinking habits and the subjects’ endothelial function – finding that consumption of boiled Greek style coffee had better endothelial function than those who consumed other types of coffee.
“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.
The team focused on coffee consumption after recent studies suggested that moderate coffee consumption could slightly reduce the risks of coronary heart disease, and that it may also have a positive impact on several aspects of endothelial health.
After taking into consideration the beneficial effects of Mediterranean diet and physical activity on cardiovascular health, the authors of the new study suggested that their findings provide a new connection between nutritional habits and cardiovascular health.
The elderly inhabitants of the Greek island Ikaria boast the highest rates of longevity in the world, which Siasos noted has led many researchers to turn to the inhabitants when looking to discover the ‘secrets of a longer life’.
The team noted that only 0.1% of Europeans live to be over 90, yet on the Greek island of Ikaria, the figure is 1%. This is recognised as one of the highest longevity rates anywhere – with the islanders tending to live out their longer lives in good health.
The team assessed a sample of 673 Ikarians aged over 65 who lived on the island permanently. Siasos and colleagues randomly selected 71 men and 71 women from the sample to take part in the study.
Medical staff then used health checks (for high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.) and questionnaires to get more detail on the participants’ medical health, lifestyles and coffee drinking, in addition to testing their endothelial function.
The researchers investigated all types of coffee taken by participants – but found that more than 87% of those in the study consumed boiled Greek coffee daily.
Importantly, the team said, these subjects consuming 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 associated with improved endothelial function, the team said.