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Have a cup, or maybe even two cups of coffee. But make sure it’s organic!

An article published on March 18, 2013 in the journal Vascular Medicine suggests that the consumption of boiled coffee could be the reason for the exceptional longevity of residents of the Greek island Ikaria, which has a high percentage of long-lived individuals. While 0.1 percent of Europeans survive longer than 90 years, ten times as many inhabitants of Ikaria live to the age of 90 or older.

The study included 142 residents of Ikaria aged 66 to 91. The participants underwent ultrasound assessment of flow-mediated dilation to assess endothelial function, a measure of cardiovascular health. Responses to dietary questionnaires were used to quantify coffee intake as low, moderate or high.

While flow mediated dilation increased with coffee intake, drinking boiled Greek coffee was associated with better endothelial function in comparison with drinking other types of coffee, even among subjects with hypertension. “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,” lead researcher Gerasimos Siasos of the University of Athens Medical School explained.

“To our knowledge, there are no clinical studies evaluating the effects of chronic coffee consumption on endothelial function, especially in subjects with established cardiovascu¬lar risk factors such as elderly individuals,” the authors write.

“The present study provides evidence that chronic consump¬tion of the boiled Greek type of coffee is associated with improved endothelial function in elderly individuals with an increased burden of cardiovascular risk factors,” they conclude. “Given the wide¬spread use of coffee beverages across the world and the fact that even small health effects of coffee could have a large impact on public health, further studies are needed to docu¬ment the exact beneficial mechanisms of coffee in vascular integrity.”

Friday, November 22, 2013. The American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2013, held November 16-20 this year in Dallas, was the site of a presentation by Masato Tsutsui, MD, PhD of a benefit for coffee in improving small vessel blood flow. Previous studies have revealed improvement in large artery function in association with caffeine consumption, as well as a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular events over a given period of time. “Although microvessels regulate vascular resistance and tissue blood flow, and play an essential role in the circulatory system, no study has ever addressed the effect of coffee on microvascular function,” Dr Tsutsui and his coauthors write.

The current double-blinded study included 27 healthy men and women aged 22 to 30 who were not coffee drinkers. Participants were given a five ounce cup of coffee that contained caffeine or one cup of decaffeinated coffee, and finger blood flow was measured via Doppler flowmetry, which evaluates microscopic blood circulation. (Blood flow to the fingers is an indicator of small blood vessel endothelial function.) After two days, those who received coffee that contained caffeine were given a cup of decaffeinated coffee and participants who received decaffeinated were given coffee with caffeine, and blood flow was re-evaluated.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013. An article published on March 14, 2013 in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association reveals a protective effect for green tea and coffee against stroke in middle-aged men and women.

Yoshiro Kokubo, MD, PhD and associates analyzed data from 82,369 participants who were free of cancer or heart disease upon enrollment in the Japan Public Health Center-Based Study Cohort I and II. Dietary questionnaires administered at enrollment provided information on green tea and coffee consumption frequency. The subjects were followed for an average of 13 years, during which 3,425 strokes (including 1,964 cerebral infarctions, 1,001 intracerebral hemorrhages and 460 subarachnoid hemorrhages) and 910 coronary heart disease events occurred, resulting in a total of 4,335 cardiovascular disease events.

In comparison with those whose tea drinking was categorized as seldom at less than once per month, drinking two to three cups green tea per day was associated with a 14% lower risk of stroke and drinking more than four cups per day with a 20% reduction. Among coffee consumers, drinking the beverage three to six times per week was associated with an 11% lower risk and consuming it once per day was associated with a 20% decrease compared to seldom drinkers. The risk was particularly significant for intracerebral hemorrhage, for which the adjusted risk was reduced by 35 percent among those who consumed at least four cups green tea per day. While total cardiovascular events were lower in association with increased tea or coffee intake, no significant association was observed for coronary heart disease.

“This is the first large-scale study to examine the combined effects of both green tea and coffee on stroke risks,” announced Dr Kokubo who is affiliated with the Department of Preventive Cardiology at Japan’s National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center. “You may make a small but positive lifestyle change to help lower the risk of stroke by adding daily green tea to your diet.”

“The regular action of drinking tea, coffee, largely benefits cardiovascular health because it partly keeps blood clots from forming,” he noted.

Other possible mechanisms cited by the authors include the ability of compounds found in tea to protect against oxidative stress and inflammation and for those in coffee to improve blood glucose levels.

A forthcoming article in the British Journal of Nutrition, published online on December 6, 2007, reported the finding of Finnish researchers that an increased intake of coffee is associated with lower mortality over a 14.5 year period.

Dr Pertti Happonen and associates evaluated data from 311 men and 506 women born during or before 1920 who were part of a large study intended to evaluate falls in older individuals. Physical examinations were conducted upon enrollment between 1991 and 1992, and questionnaires were completed concerning smoking status, the presence of diabetes, amount of coffee intake, and other information. A second questionnaire was completed two to three years later. The participants were followed for mortality through 2005.

Over the follow-up period, 251 deaths occurred among the men, and 372 among women. For total mortality from all causes, and mortality from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other or unknown causes, there was an association observed between the number of cups of coffee consumed and a decrease in the risk of death. Compared with drinking one to two cups coffee per day, each added cup lowered the risk of mortality by an average of 4 percent. When the follow-up period was divided into five year periods, the strength of coffee’s effect appeared to diminish during the final years of the study, although the researchers add that there was not enough evidence to conclude a constant linear decrease.

In an attempt to provide possible mechanisms for the finding, the authors list several diseases shown to be inversely associated with coffee intake, including Alzheimer’s disease, breast and colorectal cancer, asthma, and diabetes. They note that increased antioxidant capacity is one of coffee’s potential mechanisms against disease, and remark that the polyphenols in coffee are the greatest source of antioxidants in the diet of the Nordic population studied in this research. The effects of caffeine, as well, may have an impact on total mortality.

“The present study in a representative sample of older adults strengthens the findings in some previous studies among middle-aged individuals of a beneficial effect of moderate or heavy coffee consumption on the risk of death,” the authors conclude. “We expect results from more detailed studies in larger study populations to provide more insight about the advantages and disadvantages of coffee consumption, and to set critical recommendations of optimal consumption with regard to health.”

For more information on specific programs to address your blood pressure, contact Dan Prater, ND on 219.613.1161 or via email.

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