Coffee is an elixir of life, as has been shown by various studies, but did you know it even contributes to longevity?
According to Dan Buettner, a longevity expert with National Geographic, the benefits of coffee far outweigh its high caffeine content.
Buettner has spent much of his career studying the Blue Zones of the world, the five areas with the highest concentration of people living on earth.
These include Okinawa in Japan, Ikaria in Greece, Sardinia in Italy, the Nicosia Peninsula in Costa Rica and Loma Linda, California.
Each Blue Zone has its own unique cultural customs, traditions and environmental influences, but the five areas share some common features.
One of them is their eating habits: People living in the Blue Zones tend to follow a largely plant-based diet full of fresh produce, beans, healthy fats and whole grains.
According to Buettner, another common feature of these places was the frequent consumption of coffee, especially in Sardinia, Nicosia and Ikaria.
This makes perfect sense, because coffee - generally speaking - has been found to be rich in antioxidants.
Antioxidants are key to protecting your cells from free radicals (and therefore from chronic inflammation), which could contribute to heart disease, cancer and other diseases that can shorten life expectancy.
"Coffee can also improve your mood and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and prostate cancer."
There is a lot of research that proves the claims of the expert.
Coffee contains polyphenols, which shield the body against chronic inflammation and therefore lead to longevity.
What this scientist has to add is what type of coffee best achieves this.
According to his studies, the best coffee for longevity is the one consumed in Ikaria and by extension in Greece.
And because the habits have changed a bit, we clarify that it refers to Greek coffee.
“Ikarian coffee, or Greek coffee, is lightly roasted and finely ground,” Buettner explains.
“The fine grind delivers more concentrated antioxidants, which is one key health benefit.
"Ikarian coffee is also boiled instead of getting brewed and filtered, which extracts more of the healthy compounds in the coffee.
"And finally, the resulting cup of coffee will contain less caffeine than a typical American cup of coffee."
The way it is made, that is, the fact that it is boiled, extracts more of the healthy compounds of coffee.
Finally, a cup has a lower caffeine content than a filter coffee or espresso.
Less caffeine translates into fewer of the unpleasant and potentially dangerous side effects of caffeine overdose, such as anxiety, nervousness, high blood pressure, headaches, muscle cramps and insomnia.
Of course we should not forget to mention that Greek coffee is delicious.
Coffee as a social drink
Apart from the way it is brewed with the kettle, the slow boiling, the creamy result and the dregs with the rich health benefits, the way they consume coffee in Ikaria -and by extension in the rest of Greece-, contributes to the longevity the region is famous for.
Coffee means going out, socialising, a way to relax.
"“Folks who indulge in this habit sip their coffee slowly with family and friends, at the table, or in social cafe settings, rather than downing a mug for energy in the early hours of the day," says Buettner.
The importance of rest and relaxation is a common feature of the inhabitants living in the Blue Zones.
The next time you go out, do you think about what coffee to order?
Niki Koskina is a writer for Olive Magazine.
Greek City Times does not provide medical advice, does not make diagnoses and does not suggest medical treatments. The information published on this site is not intended to replace medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting your doctor.