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Greek Coffee Could be the Ikarian Secret to Longer LIfe, Study

Update Date: Mar 18, 2013 02:54 PM EDT

Drinking Greek coffee may be the secret to living a longer life, according to a new study.

Researchers wanted to understand why people living in the Greek island of Ikaria boast the highest rates of longevity in the world.  The new study, published in the journal Vascular Medicine, looked specifically at the link between cardiovascular health and Greek coffee.

Researchers explained that only 0.1 percent of Europeans live to be over 90, but of the island of Ikaria, the number of people who live past the age of 89 is 10 times higher than the rest of Europe. Furthermore, these islanders generally live out their long years in good health.

Gerasimos Siasos, a medical doctor and professor at the University of Athens Medical School, Greece, and his team studied whether the coffee consumption of the island's elderly population's had an effect on their health.  Researchers looked specifically at the links between coffee-drinking habits and the participants'' endothelial function.  Researchers explain that the endothelium is a layer of cells that lines blood vessels.  This layer of cells is affected by a multitude of factors like aging and lifestyle habits. Siasos and his team looked at coffee because previous studies found that moderate coffee consumption can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and may also benefit several aspects of endothelial health.

The study involved 71 men and 71 women over the age of 65 who lived on Ikaria.  Participants underwent health checks and answered questionnaires about their medical history, lifestyles and coffee consumption.

The study looked at all types of coffee consumed by participants.  Researchers found that more than 87 percent of the coffee consumed by participants was boiled Greek coffee. They found that participants who drank boiled Greek coffee had significantly better endothelial function than those who drank other types of coffee. Researchers said that even in participants with high blood pressure, boiled Greek coffee consumption was associated with better 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. 

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