Coffee and high blood pressure

Coffee and high blood pressure - a safe combination

New research on coffee and high blood pressure suggests that it may be protective. Authors of a study presented at the recent congress of the European Society of Cardiology say that the results suggest that people with high blood pressure should be encouraged to drink moderate amounts of coffee.

The researchers from the University of Athens conducted the study on 235 elderly residents of the Aegean island of Ikaria, who had high blood pressure.

According to Doctor Christina Chrysohoou, lead researcher, “The study revealed that moderate coffee consumption (between one and two cups per day) is associated with higher values of aortic distensibility when compared with other hypertensive elderly individuals taking less quantities of coffee." She also said that there was evidence that moderate coffee consumption leads to reduced cardiovascular disease, lower prevalence of diabetes and hyperlipidaemia, (high blood fats) lower body mass index, better renal function.

The participants regularly drank strong boiled Greek coffee that is high in chemicals called diterpenes which the researchers believe are responsible, amongst others, for this finding.


Another study that gives coffee addicts hope - they can keep drinking, at least in moderation. This study was part of a larger one looking at diet and health in what sounds like a very pleasant place to live - the Greek Island of Ikaria. Apparently here the residents have a high life expectancy, with many living to over 90. The hypertensives amongst them who regularly drank coffee were studied to try to estabish more useful information on coffee and high blood pressure.

The term 'aortic distensibility' simply means that they were looking to see how elastic the major blood vessel coming from the heart was. More elasticity means that an artery is in better condition than one with less, i.e. one that is more rigid and inflexible. Using this measure they were able to determine that the effects of the coffee were beneficial.

Coffee contains literally hundreds of chemicals - some are good, for example they have antioxidant properties others, less so, for example fatty compounds that can raise cholesterol. There has been a lot of research into the effects of coffee and it would appear that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages - as long as we do not overdo it.

As a coffee fan myself, I can only welcome the results of this study, and since I am writing this after breakfast, I shall flip the switch on my percolator and treat myself to a cup of finest Columbian - unfortunately the label does not give me its 'diterpene' content! NJ

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