Does Greek coffee hold the key to a longer life?

Consumption of a boiled Greek type of coffee is associated with improved endothelial function: The Ikaria Study

From Vascular Medicine

The answer to longevity may be far simpler than we imagine; it may in fact be right under our noses in the form of a morning caffeine kick. The elderly inhabitants of Ikaria, the Greek island, boast the highest rates of longevity in the World, and many scientists turn to them when looking to discover the ‘secrets of a longer life’. Researchers investigating cardiovascular health believe that a cup of boiled Greek coffee holds the clue to the elderly islanders’ good vascular health. Only 0.1% of Europeans live to be over 90, yet on the Greek island of Ikaria, the figure is 1%. This is recognized as one of the highest longevity rates anywhere – and the islanders tend to live out their longer lives in good health. The researchers investigated all types of coffee taken by participants – but interestingly more than 87% of those in this 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. Even in those with high blood pressure, boiled Greek coffee consumption was associated with improved endothelial function, without worrying impacts on blood pressure. Taking into consideration the beneficial effects of Mediterranean diet and physical activity on cardiovascular health, this study provides a new connection between nutritional habits and cardiovascular health.

Abstract

Objective: The association of coffee consumption with cardiovascular disease remains controversial. Endothelial function is associated with cardiovascular risk. We examined the association between chronic coffee consumption and endothelium function in elderly inhabitants of the island of Ikaria.

Methods: The analysis was conducted on 142 elderly subjects (aged 66–91 years) of the Ikaria Study. Endothelial function was evaluated by ultrasound measurement of flow-mediated dilation (FMD). Coffee consumption was evaluated based on a food frequency questionnaire and was categorized as ‘low’ (< 200 ml/day), ‘moderate’ (200–450 ml/day), or ‘high’ (> 450 ml/day).

Results: From the subjects included in the study, 87% consumed a boiled Greek type of coffee. Moreover, 40% had a ‘low’, 48% a ‘moderate’ and 13% a ‘high’ daily coffee consumption. There was a linear increase in FMD according to coffee consumption (‘low’: 4.33 ± 2.51% vs ‘moderate’: 5.39 ± 3.09% vs ‘high’: 6.47 ± 2.72%; p = 0.032). Moreover, subjects consuming mainly a boiled Greek type of coffee had a significantly higher FMD compared with those consuming other types of coffee beverages (p = 0.035).

Conclusions: Chronic coffee consumption is associated with improved endothelial function in elderly subjects, providing a new connection between nutrition and vascular health.

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Article details
Siasos, G., Oikonomou, E., Chrysohoou, C., Tousoulis, D., Panagiotakos, D., Zaromitidou, M., Zisimos, K., Kokkou, E., Marinos, G., Papavassiliou, A., Pitsavos, C., & Stefanadis, C. (2013). Consumption of a boiled Greek type of coffee is associated with improved endothelial function: The Ikaria Study Vascular Medicine DOI: 10.1177/1358863X13480258

     
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