What’s the secret to heart health and longevity? It may be a daily cup or so of Greek coffee. In a recent study published in Vascular Medicine, researchers found that elderly residents from the Greek island Ikaria who drank boiled Greek coffee at least once a day displayed better overall cardiovascular health. (Ikaria, by the way, has been documented as one of the regions where people live well past 90 at a significantly higher rate than the rest of the word.)
In general, coffee – one of the most consumed beverages worldwide – is considered to be good for the heart since this beverage contains high levels of protective antioxidants and polyphenols. However, what makes Greek coffee superior to your average cup of Joe is its concentration and preparation, both of which deliver more protective compounds in each little cup.
Greek coffee is boiled rather than brewed. This boiling method was developed in Yemen during antiquity, long before filtration of coffee was introduced. Boiling coffee is also carried out in Turkey and throughout the Middle East. This method also creates a foam the Greeks call kaimaki (pronounced kaee-MAH-kee), which adds a rich, creaminess to the coffee. The process of boiling coffee extracts much more nutrients from the coffee beans than the filtering method.
Additionally, Greek coffee is comprised of Arabica coffee beans, which are ground down to a very fine powder, thus delivering more concentrated antioxidants per ounce than in a cup of regular coffee. The combination of boiling a fine grind gives Greek coffee a powerful, one-two health punch. Plus, you get less caffeine than in an American cup of coffee, so ounce for ounce it’s a healthier choice.
Rich in chlorogenic acid, polyphenols, lipid-soluble substances and other heart-healthy compounds, Greek coffee has been shown to help protect the arteries, as well as lower your risk for diabetes and boost overall immune health.
Greek Coffee and Healthier Blood Vessels
According to the study, those who drank Greek coffee had healthier blood vessels. What’s more, the new research suggests that Greek coffee protects against endothelial cell dysfunction, a type of heart disease that is particularly lethal to women and is on the rise.
Endothelial function represents the health of blood vessel walls. The endothelium is composed of a thin layer of cells that line the interior of blood vessels, helping them to open and allow blood to flow through more easily. This process keeps blood pressure in check, allowing the heart to work less in terms of pushing blood through the vessels.
However, when the endothelium becomes inflamed, it creates areas where arterial plaque can latch on and build up, a process that may eventually trigger a heart attack. The intense concentration of heart-protective properties in Greek coffee calms inflammation in the vessels, thus smoothing down the endothelial layer, allowing blood to flow more freely and helping to prevent plaque buildup.