How to live longer: The foods proven to prevent cardiovascular disease and boost longevity

Although it is obvious that food is vital to one's survival, many people are unaware how single compounds found in foods could impact disease and mortality. Leading health experts and researchers recommend a diet which is rich in polyphenols to help boost longevity and reduce the risk of diseases.

New research on polyphenols shows they can help microorganisms in the digestive system, and may extend one's lifespan too. 

Polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, have recently been in the spotlight as researchers uncover the health benefits of eating polyphenol-rich foods. 

New findings from the New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Ltd. show that polyphenols—which give colour to fruits and vegetables and are also found in coffee, tea, nuts, and legumes—can break down into molecules that help beneficial microorganisms found in the digestive system.

In short, they can support gut health, which is increasingly being recognized as vital to our overall well-being.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Health experts warn to stay away from this diet – ‘it will not protect you'

In a study published in Alpha Galileo, a diet high in polyphenols and its association with longevity was investigated.

The study noted: "It is the first time that a scientific study associates high polyphenols intake with a 30 percent reduction in mortality in older adults.

"The research, published on Journal of Nutrition, is the first to evaluate the total dietary polyphenol intake by using a nutritional biomarker and not only a food frequency questionnaire."

Researchers found that people who took in 650 mg per day experienced a 30 percent lower mortality rate than those who took in less than 500 mg per day. 

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Professor Cristina Andrés Lacueva, head of the Biomarkers and Nutritional & Food Metabolomics Research Group of the UB and coordinator of the study said: "The development and use of nutritional biomarkers enables to make a more precise and, particularly, more objective estimation of intake as it is not only based on participants' memory when answering questionnaire.

"Nutritional biomarkers take into account bioavailability and individual differences.

"This methodology makes a more reliable and accurate evaluation of the association between food intake and mortality or disease risk".

"Increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables is the best way to bolster your daily intake of these health-promoting compounds," said Dr. Charlie Seltzer, a Philadelphia-based physician who specializes in anti-aging treatments.

He continued: "The outer layers of many fruits and vegetables contain the highest concentrations of polyphenols, so don't peel off the skin before you eat them.

"Another way to get more polyphenols from fruit is to consume them before they ripen, because polyphenol activity lessens as fruit ages.

"A study showed that freeze-drying fruit, as opposed to chilling it, preserves 80 percent of its antioxidants, including polyphenols."

Polyphenols or polyphenol rich diets provide significant protection against the development and progression of many chronic pathological conditions including cancer, diabetes, cardio-vascular problems and aging.

Polyphenol foods are known to help boost longevity and fruits with high levels of polyphenols include black chokeberries, black elderberries, strawberries, red raspberries, blueberries, plums, and blackcurrants.

Cocoa powder, dark chocolate, coffee, tea, and flaxseed are also high in polyphenols.

When it comes to herbs and seasonings with high levels of polyphenols, the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition recommends cloves, dried peppermint, and star anise.

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