The Greek Secret: Live Long and Drink Coffee

Do you want to live longer?

Deep amongst the Aegean Sea sits the small, remote island known as Ikaria – a place where “people forget to die.” It almost sounds as legendary as Zeus turning into a shower of gold or Helios rampaging through the sky dragging the sun behind him. The truth may be even stranger than you may believe.

It is noted in the National Geographic by Dan Buttener that Ikaria is one of five “blue zones” (the other four being the Japanese island of Okinawa, Loma Linda in California, Sardinia in Italy and the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica) – because of the mystery of its inhabitants’ longevity, happiness and overall health. So incredible are its people’s health that it is reported that those aged over 90 are of the healthiest in the world.

The secret?

A daily dose of coffee.

Not just any coffee, however.

Mediterranean coffee has some of the most incredible and natural substances to date – and in the case of Ikaria, they have the cream of the crop. Boiled in a stove known by the Greek inhabitants as a briki, the finely ground beans are tipped back into a small cup and served with sugar, where it gently foams as the roast beans sink to the bottom.

So what makes it so special?

Premature death through heart attacks are uncommon in Ikaria. Research done by Athens Medical School suspect that it is down to the daily amounts of coffee that the Ikarians drink. Whilst the exact reasons are unclear, the unusually happy disposition and the lack of cancerous or cardiac issues are certainly linked to the caffeine and antioxidants within the coffee.

By increasing the heart rate, it may be the equivalent of regular exercise, where the blood is pumped thoroughly and quickly throughout the body. Buttener noted that it was difficult to get through Ikaria “without walking up 20 hills,” which indeed may be connected to Ikarian longevity.

On the other side of the scale however, afternoon naps are also part of Ikarian – and indeed Greek – culture. In a study in Havard School of Public Health in Boston, it was noted that those that took afternoon naps were 30% less likely to die of heart disease.

Caffiene, healthy living or pure luck?

Perhaps it is worth finding out …

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