People who live on the Greek island of Ikaria are known to have remarkably high life expectancies, and researchers have been studying them carefully to learn why. Now a new report suggests that one reason may be the coffee they drink.
“This boiled coffee seems to generate antioxidant substances,” said Dr. Gerasimos Siasos, a professor at the University of Athens Medical School and an author of the study, which appears in the journal Vascular Medicine.
He and his colleagues found that older islanders who drank the boiled coffee had better functioning endotheliums — the layer of cells that line blood vessels.
“When there is dysfunction here, the arteries become more stiff, and we have heart attacks and arterial occlusions,” said Dr. Siasos, who did the research with his colleague Dr. Christodoulos Stefanadis.
Of course, coffee is only one factor. “It has to do with their way of living,” Dr. Siasos said. “People sleep over eight hours a night, there is increased socializing, and they have much less stress than people in Athens.”
The islanders also eat a Mediterranean diet that includes many fruits, vegetables, olive oil and fish. Most also nap every day and walk and garden regularly, Dr. Siasos said.
The researchers will journey to Ikaria this summer to study how the island’s water, minerals and air quality might also be contributing to longevity.
If they pay close attention to the research they may just decide to stay there instead of returning to Athens. Between sleeping better, eating healthier, living a less stressful life – plus the boiled coffee – I can think of a whole boatload of reasons NOT to leave.