Drinking one or two cups coffee each day might do more than give you – and your boss – that much-needed boost on those groggy mornings. In fact, it might just be the ‘fountain of youth’ everyone’s been looking for.
Researchers from the University of Athens say drinking coffee helps people live longer by improving the elasticity of arteries, which minimizes the chances of developing heart disease. And with heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States, the finding has medical professionals and citizens taking a better look at the benefits of making coffee consumption a regular part of a healthy lifestyle.
The research findings come after an analysis of 485 people ages 65 to 100 with high blood pressure. Research participants were from the Greek island Ikaria, called the “land of longevity” and known for having about one-third of its residents reach their 90th birthday.
The results are especially significant for the aging population who are looking for a way to counteract high blood pressure. Aging naturally leads to the stiffening of blood vessels, which sends the risk of high blood pressure soaring.
The research findings also, interestingly, found that varying from one to two cups of coffee per day by drinking less or more does not provide the same benefits.
Dr. Christina Chrysohoou, the head of the study, presented the findings to the European Society of Cardiology Congress. Chrysohoou explained that the university sought to discover why the island’s residents had such unusually long life expectancies and acknowledged that researchers have previously found conflicting results about whether coffee helps or harms the heart.
The results were based on groups of research participants divided into those who drank little or no coffee each day (33%), those who drank one to two cups of coffee each day (56%) and those who drank three or more cups a day (11%).
In the end, oddly enough, imaging scans revealed that those in the middle group who drank one to two cups of coffee a day had a 25% greater blood vessel elasticity than those drinking little to no coffee, but had five times greater elasticity than the heavier coffee drinkers in the latter group.
The study also revealed that those in the middle group were less likely to have high cholesterol, diabetes, cardiovascular disease or to be overweight.
The coffee that study participants drank was mostly traditional Greek coffee in small, espresso-sized cups. Greek coffee is generally much stronger and has more caffeine than the standard American coffee. Greek coffee is also unfiltered and unboiled, allowing it to retain more of the other beneficial components of coffee, including flavonoids, magnesium, potassium, niacin and vitamin E.
More skeptical medical professionals question the results, wondering if they could be duplicated or whether there was a false connection made between longevity and coffee consumption. They also suggested that the social aspect of coffee drinking, which is often in a relaxing, comfortable atmosphere absent from stress, could be a large factor in the findings. The daily momentary escape from stress while drinking coffee could also help avoid high blood pressure.