Buettner has spent much of his career studying the world’s Blue Zones: the five regions that contain the highest concentration of longest-lived people on earth. These include Okinawa, Japan; Icaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, California. Each blue zone has its own cultural customs, traditions and environmental influences, but the five regions share some characteristics in common. One is their eating habits: People in the Blue Zones tend to follow a plant-based diet, consisting of fresh produce, beans, healthy fats, and whole grains; highly processed foods don’t play a big role in their cooking.
According to Buettner, another pronounced commonality shared by these localities was a constant consumption of coffee, especially Sardinia, Nicoya and Ikaria. According to Buettner, this makes perfect sense because coffee, in general, has been shown to be high in antioxidants, which are essential for protecting your cells against free radicals (and therefore chronic inflammation) that could contribute to heart disease. cancer and other diseases that can shorten life expectancy. “Coffee may also improve your mood and reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and prostate cancer.”
Nutrition experts agree. “Coffee is known to contain antioxidants polyphenols with anti-inflammatory benefits”, nutrition expert Keri GansMS, RDN, author of The small change diet, previously said Well+Good. “This has been linked to a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, liver scarringcolorectal cancer and also heart disease. “The caffeine in coffee also increases the stimulating norepinephrine as well as the chemical dopamine in your brain, which helps you stay focused and alert as you age. Finally, a 2018 study of 500,000 people also showed this drinking coffee is associated with a lower risk of death– and that, surprisingly, the greatest reduction in mortality was seen in people who drank six to seven cups a day. (Much more than the threshold of four cups per day which doctors often recommend.) As was true for both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee drinkers, other compounds in coffee appear to be responsible for extending lifespan, which likely means antioxidants.
While all coffees have powerful health benefits, Buettner highlights one particular type of coffee that has an edge over others when it comes to longevity: Ikarian coffee, otherwise known as Greek coffee.
Benefits of Ikarian Coffee for Longevity
“Ikarian coffee, or Greek coffee, is lightly roasted and finely ground,” says Buettner. “The fine grind provides more concentrated antioxidants, which is a key health benefit. Ikarian coffee is also boiled instead of brewed and filtered, which extracts Continued healthy compounds in coffee. And finally, the resulting cup of coffee will contain less caffeine than a typical American cup of coffee.” Less caffeine translates to fewer unpleasant and potentially dangerous side effects of caffeine overdose, such as anxiety, nervousness, high blood pressure, headaches, muscle tremors and insomnia.”It’s also worth mentioning that Greek coffee is delicious,” adds Buettner.
How to make Ikarian coffee
“Icarians boil their coffee instead of brewing it,” Buettner explains. “Although this method is commonly referred to as ‘Turkish coffee’, it is used in Greece, the Middle East and other parts of the world.” And the process is more of an art than anything else.
To get a bit more (ahem) gritty, when brewing Ikarian coffee, the water is boiled directly with the finely ground beans. The result is a frothy, rich and naturally creamy drink. Given the consistency of the grounds, these beans can be consumed straight rather than strained, which may allow you to ingest even more of the direct benefits associated with coffee.
“The process begins with a small jar called a briki,” Buettner explains. “You add water and coffee to the briki – or, if you don’t have one, a saucepan – and stir until the grounds are dissolved.” The next step is to slowly bring the coffee and water mixture to a boil, and once you see foam on top, remove the mixture from the heat.
“Divide the froth evenly between the coffee cups, then pour the rest of the coffee on top,” says Buettner. “Be sure to wait for the grounds to settle to the bottom of the cup before drinking.”
While many of us limit ourselves to a single cup of coffee in the morning or afternoon, this coffee ritual is one that many people of Ikaria take part in several times a day. Since coffee is considered a social drink, Ikarian coffee is often consumed with friends several times a day in small portions. “People who indulge in this habit sip their coffee slowly with family and friends, at dinner tables or in social cafes, rather than drinking a cup of energy in the early hours of the day,” Buettner says. This makes sense, as maintaining strong social connections and being mindful of the importance of rest is another key commonality among residents living in Blue Zones.
Of course, while coffee of the Ikarian variety may be better for you than most, it doesn’t retain the monopoly of health benefits among coffees. Indeed, since coffee contains caffeine, just about any bean will provide the benefits described above. “Caffeine is a natural stimulant that promotes wakefulness, focus and alertness,” says Sahra Nguyen, Founder and CEO of Nguyen coffee supply. As such, it is not surprising that 62% of Americans drink coffee every day.
So if you’re looking to mix up your coffee routine with a slightly spicier version of your favorite drink, consider replacing one (or more) of your daily cups with the Ikarian version. And since Ikarian coffee and brikis are readily available on Amazon, tasting the delicious brew is just a click away.
To learn more about the health benefits of coffee according to an RD, watch this video:
Oh hi! You sound like someone who loves free workouts, discounts on top wellness brands, and exclusive Well+Good content. Join Well+, our online community of wellness insiders, and unlock your rewards instantly.
Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.