Greek coffee may be key to longevity

Coffee

A daily cup of boiled Greek coffee may hold the secret to long life and good health, scientists say. In a new study published in journal Vascular Medicine, researchers looked at the elderly inhabitants of Ikaria, the Greek island, which boasts the highest rates of longevity in the world.

Researchers who investigated cardiovascular health believe that a cup of boiled Greek coffee holds the clue to the elderly islanders' good health. Only 0.1 per cent of Europeans live to be over 90, yet on the Greek island of Ikaria, the figure is 1 per cent.

This is recognised as one of the highest longevity rates anywhere - and the islanders tend to live out their longer lives in good health.

Gerasimos Siasos, a medical doctor and professor at the University of Athens Medical School, Greece set out with his team to find out whether the elderly population's coffee drinking had an effect on their health. In particular, the researchers investigated links between coffee-drinking habits and the subjects' endothelial function.

The endothelium is a layer of cells that lines blood vessels, which is affected both by ageing and by lifestyle habits (such as smoking). The team homed in on coffee because recent studies suggest that moderate coffee consumption may slightly reduce the risks of coronary heart disease, and that it may also have a positive impact on several aspects of endothelial 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 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 interestingly more than 87 per cent of those in the study consumed boiled, Greek coffee daily. More importantly, subjects consuming mainly boiled Greek coffee had better endothelial function than those who consumed other types of coffee.

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