We all know that a person's diet can have a dramatic effect on their longevity, but which foods are the most effective for extending the human lifespan? Nutritionists have studied the longest-lived ethnic groups in the world, including residents of the Japanese island of Okinawa (average lifespan of 81 years) and Seventh Day Adventists in the US, who outlive other Americans by an average of four years through a combination of alcohol abstinence and vegetarianism. These are some of the foods that these groups emphasize in their diets:
- Fish. Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, eating fish helps to prevent dangerous inflammation that can lead to heart disease, cancer and arthritis.
- Bright-colored fruits and vegetables: We all know that fruits and vegetables are essential to any healthy diet, but the particularly brightly-colored ones, such as tomatoes, pomegranates, carrots and pumpkins provide extra health benefits as well. These fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants, carotenoids and flavenoids, and comprise a good source of fiber.
- Yogurt. Along with all the digestive benefits that come with its probiotic nature, yogurt helps maintain bone health into old age by giving those who eat it an extra infusion of calcium.
- Dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains polyphenols, which are thought to lower blood pressure and increase blood vessel flexibility, helping to avoid conditions like hypertension.
- Wine: You probably shouldn't down a whole bottle per day, but consuming one or two glasses of wine each day can also be a good source of polyphenols. Sip wine while eating dark chocolate after dinner for a potent polyphenol cocktail that your heart will thank you for.
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