The key to a long life could be simpler than we thought – maybe even in our morning cup of coffee. A cup of boiled Greek coffee to be exact – could improve cardiovascular health and increase longevity.

The findings were published in Vascular Medicine and focused on observing the residents of Ikaria, a Greek Island, where they have the longest lifespans in the world.

The scientists were intrigued to find out how these island inhabitants found the secret to a longer life. Only 0.1 percent of Europeans live to be older than 90 years – but on the island of Ikaria that number is 1 percent.

Gerasimos Siasos, a medical doctor and professor at the University of Athens Medical School, and his colleagues wanted to explore the elderly population’s coffee drinking and its effect on their health.

The endothelium is a layer of cells that lines the blood vessels, which is impacted by lifestyle habits and aging. The researchers focused on coffee because earlier research has proven that moderate coffee intake may decrease the risk of coronary heart disease, they wondered whether it could have a positive impact on other areas of endothelial health.

For example, a study from 2009 reported that high intakes of coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and tea are all linked to a decreased risk of diabetes

The researchers recruited 142 Ikarians (71 women and 71 men) who were over the age of 65 years and had lived on the island all their lives. They carried out their analysis using health check data (for diabetes, high blood pressure) and questionnaires to measure the participants’ lifestyles, coffee drinking, medical health, and tested their endothelial function.

The investigators researched all kinds of coffee consumed by the participants. Surprisingly over 87 percent of those in the study drank boiled, Greek coffee every day. Participants who drank more Greek coffee had better endothelial function than those who drank other types of coffee.

Even in volunteers who had high blood pressure, coffee consumption was linked to better endothelial function, without negative influence on blood pressure.

Gerasimos Siasos concluded:

“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.”

The current study provides new evidence showing the link between cardiovascular health and nutritional health. Because coffee consumption is so widespread, even the small health effects of at least one kind of coffee could have a big influence on public health.

The authors suggest that further studies are needed to identify the exact advantageous effects of coffee on cardiovascular health.

Written by Kelly Fitzgerald