You may have heard that eating a Mediterranean diet - a diet rich in fish, veggies, and olive oil - is good for your heart. But here's another reason to eat a Mediterranean diet: foods high in polyphenols can help you live longer. For the first time, a sound scientific study has found that a high-polyphenol diet lowers your risk of dying by 30%.
Polyphenols are natural chemicals found in fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, coffee, tea, and grains - the foundation of a Mediterranean diet. These chemicals are high in antioxidants and are anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory. Plants contain more than 8,000 different phenolic compounds, so it isn't hard to find ways to consume them. And according to this research, you definitely should.
This study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, is the first one to look at dietary polyphenol intake by using a nutritional biomarker instead of just a food frequency questionnaire. The latter can easily contain incorrect information.
The researchers did a 12-year follow-up study on a group of 807 men and women aged 65 or older from Greve and Bagno in Tuscany, Italy. They were able to measure a nutritional biomarker, total urinary polyphenol concentration. Professor Christina Andrés Lacueva, study coordinator, explained, "The development and use of nutritional biomarkers enables [us] to make a more precise and, particularly, more objective estimation of intake, as it is not only based on participants' memory when answering questionnaires."
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These biomarkers also account for bioavailability and differences between people, which makes it easier to accurately assess the associations between food intake and mortality or disease risk. And the results were significant: a 30% reduction in mortality risk for the participants who consumed more than 650 mg of polyphenols a day versus the participants who consumed 500 mg a day or fewer.
Study author Raul Zamora Ros notes that "results corroborate scientific evidence suggesting that people consuming diets rich in fruit and vegetables are at lower risk of several chronic diseases and overall mortality."
So if you want to live longer, you don't have to starve yourself. Calorie restriction isn't the only way to increase your life span. All you have to do is focus on the Mediterranean diet. If you suspect you're not getting enough polyphenols or if you just want to boost the amount you're getting, consider making a breakfast smoothie with fruit and a scoop or two of Advanced Greens Formula. It will quickly increase your polyphenol intake - and it tastes great.
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R. Zamora-Ros, M. Rabassa, A. Cherubini, M. Urpi-Sarda, S. Bandinelli, L. Ferrucci, C. Andres-Lacueva. High Concentrations of a Urinary Biomarker of Polyphenol Intake Are Associated with Decreased Mortality in Older Adults. Journal of Nutrition, 2013; 143 (9): 1445 DOI: 10.3945/jn.113.177121.
Universidad de Barcelona (2013, October 9). High dietary intake of polyphenols are associated with longevity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 11, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131009111025.htm.