Twenty Foods For Long, Healthy Life

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
Twenty Foods For Long, Healthy Life

Dark chocolate, apples and coffee are among 20 foods essential for living as long and healthy a life as possible, according to a leading nutritional scientist.

Gary Williamson, Professor of Functional Foods at the University of Leeds, has drawn up a list of what he calls 'lifespan essential' foods needed for a long and healthy life.

In his inaugural lecture, Professor Williamson said that although each person's lifespan is genetically pre-determined, eating 'lifespan essential' foods will maximise your chances of living as long as possible. It will also increase your quality of life as you age by reducing the incidence of disease.

The 20 foods are:

* apples
* blackberries
* black tea
* blueberries
* broccoli
* cereal bran
* cherries
* cherry tomatoes
* coffee
* cranberries
* dark chocolate
* green tea
* oranges
* peaches
* plums
* raspberries
* red grapes
* red onions
* spinach
* strawberries


The foods are rich in polyphenols - naturally-occurring chemicals like tannins, lignins and flavonoids found in plants which are widely accepted as having health benefits. A recent international study carried out by scientists in the US, UK and Australia which looked at the health benefits of polyphenols concluded that they helped protect against heart disease.*

Although the importance of eating fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced diet is widely understood, Professor Williamson's work goes further by prescribing 20 foods which are essential to allow you to fulfil your life's potential.

Professor Williamson, who has published more than 240 refereed scientific publications including more than 100 papers on polyphenols and health, says: "These foods have been chosen because they are highest in polyphenols, which reduce the risk of heart disease and help to slow down ageing processes.

"Epidemiology studies support the protective effects of polyphenol-rich foods. Lack of these components in the diet, because of low intake of fruit and vegetables, increases the risk of chronic disease.

"Although they might not be essential for growth and development or the maintenance of major body functions, there is increasing knowledge concerning their potential for health maintenance or disease risk reduction throughout adulthood and during ageing.

"This means that they are essential to fulfil the maximum individual lifespan, and so I propose that they are 'lifespan essential'. This does not necessarily include an increase of the maximum potential lifespan, but rather an increase of the chance of reaching the genetically determined lifespan and an increase in the quality of life during aging by reducing the incidence of chronic, age-related diseases."