Which Foods Increase Lifespan?
Turns out that living longer can be accomplished by eating certain fruits and vegetables with a particular ratio. Which ones you ask? A huge study has confirmed the answer.
In other words, there is a recipe of sorts – that a certain combination of certain fruits and vegetables produces a longer life. This was the conclusion of a Harvard study that followed nearly 2 million people.
Study on Longevity
Researchers from the Harvard Medical School analyzed data from research that followed about 1.9 million adults around the world. They utilized data from two large US studies and 26 other studies from 29 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America.
The US studies included the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which followed over 100,000 adults for up to 30 years.
That data collected diet information every two and four years, and included following adults medical outcomes and diets. The researchers documented the deaths and causes, and tied that information to the person’s diet. This was combined with the metadata from the 29 studies from around the world to find an over-arching conclusion about what which foods and diet strategies increase longevity.
Lead study author Dong D. Wang, M.D., Sc.D. stated:
“Our analysis in the two cohorts of U.S. men and women yielded results similar to those from 26 cohorts around the world, which supports the biological plausibility of our findings and suggests these findings can be applied to broader populations.”American Heart Association
The 2021 study was published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.
The research found that eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, with a ratio of 2 servings of fruits to 3 servings of vegetables was the most optimal diet for a longer life.
“While groups like the American Heart Association recommend four to five servings each of fruits and vegetables daily, consumers likely get inconsistent messages about what defines optimal daily intake of fruits and vegetables such as the recommended amount, and which foods to include and avoid,” said Dr. Wang.
Compared to those who ate two servings of fruit and vegetables per day, those who ate five servings a day of fruits and vegetable had a 13% lower incidence of death from any cause and 12% lower incidence of death from heart disease.
They also had a 10% lower incidence of cancer deaths and a 35% lower incidence of lung-related deaths.
Which foods are better at increasing lifespan?
The researchers found that some fruits and vegetables beat others for producing longevity. Those that were not as good included starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas and corn.
They also found that fruit juice did not offer the same advantage as raw fruits for boosting lifespan.
Vegetables that offered the best benefit included lettuce, spinach, kale and other green leafy vegetables. Also colorful vegetables were better at boosting longevity.
For the fruits, those rich in beta carotene and vitamin C including berries, citrus and carrots offered the best results in increasing lifespan.
“We also found that not all fruits and vegetables offer the same degree of benefit, even though current dietary recommendations generally treat all types of fruits and vegetables, including starchy vegetables, fruit juices and potatoes, the same,” said Dr. Wang.
Raw fruits and vegetables also offer a considerable amount of vitamins and minerals, as well as significant fiber to keep the digestive tract functional.
Plant-based and Med Diets benefit the heart
Another 2021 study, from Harvard’s School of Public Health, followed more than 200,000 people for up to 32 years. This study tested their relative degree of plant-based and Mediterranean diet.
The study found that those with more plant-based diets and Mediterranean diets had a reduced incidence of heart disease.
Polyphenols and Carotenoids
Two other recent studies have also confirmed that polyphenols and carotenoids in fruits and vegetables confer special benefits in the diet. These include cognitive benefits and the ability to fight free radicals – which are directly tied to increasing lifespan.
Yet another 2021 study, this from the UK’s University of Reading, found that polyphenols from various fruits and vegetables is associated with better cognitive health.
Wang DD, Li Y, Bhupathiraju SN, Rosner BA, Sun Q, Giovannucci EL, Rimm EB, Manson JE, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Hu FB. Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Mortality: Results From 2 Prospective Cohort Studies of US Men and Women and a Meta-Analysis of 26 Cohort Studies. Circulation. 2021 Mar 1. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.120.048996.
Lamport DJ, Williams CM. Polyphenols and Cognition In Humans: An Overview of Current Evidence from Recent Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses. Brain Plast. 2021 Feb 9;6(2):139-153. doi: 10.3233/BPL-200111.
Focsan AL, Polyakov NE, Kispert LD. Carotenoids: Importance in Daily Life-Insight Gained from EPR and ENDOR. Appl Magn Reson. 2021 Mar 20:1-20. doi: 10.1007/s00723-021-01311-8.
Shan Z, Li Y, Baden MY, Bhupathiraju SN, Wang DD, Sun Q, Rexrode KM, Rimm EB, Qi L, Willett WC, Manson JE, Qi Q, Hu FB. Association Between Healthy Eating Patterns and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease. JAMA Intern Med. 2020 Aug 1;180(8):1090-1100. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.2176.