The fruits and vegetables path to longevity& |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
- Longevity with an able body is almost every human being’s wish but few get to realise it.
- The formula to a long and healthy life eludes us all as we keep hearing different versions.
- A study by Harvard researchers has thrown more light on the diet plan that enhances longevity.
So, here’s the formula that we had been searching for – high and low. Eating the right “mix” of fruits and vegetables can help us live longer, according to a new study.
Released by the American Health Association in March 2021 and conducted by researchers at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, the new study found that eating two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables is associated with lower mortality rates.
Eating more than that was not associated with additional benefits, the study said.
CNBC quotes the lead study author Dong D. Wang, M.D., Sc.D., an epidemiologist, nutritionist and a member of the medical faculty at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who says that “This amount likely offers the most benefit in terms of prevention of major chronic disease and is a relatively achievable intake for the general public.”
So, does that mean we can eat any and every fruit and vegetable, and expect the 5-a-day combo to enhance our longevity? Not all fruits and vegetables were considered equal, alerts Dr Wang.
Vegetables and fruits that showed benefits:
- Green leafy vegetables, including spinach, kale and lettuce,
- Vegetables rich in beta carotene and
- Citrus fruits and berries
Not recommended for 5-a-day regimen:
- Starchy vegetables, such as peas, corn and potatoes, and
- fruit juices
- The starchy veggies and pulped fruits were not associated with reduced risk of death or chronic diseases, found the study.
How the study was conducted:
- Wang and his colleagues followed more than 100,000 adult women and men from 1984 to 2014
- They sought answers to food frequency questionnaires every two to four years.
- Additionally, researchers pooled data on fruit and vegetable intake from nearly 2 million adults worldwide.
What if one eats more servings of fruits or veggies?
Eating more than five servings per day of fruits and vegetables was not linked with additional health benefits, the researchers found.
The ‘nutty’ way to longevity:
According to a report in the Boston Globe, nuts may help us live longer, healthier lives. New research shows that people who eat a daily handful of nuts have improved longevity, lower risk for chronic illnesses like heart disease, and are generally leaner than those who do not eat nuts.
The report says that this research in 2013, by the Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute suggests consuming nuts regularly promotes health.
Critics say partial funding by a nut research group raises credibility questions.
Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition, chair of the department of nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health, was one of the study’s authors.
The nutritional profile of nuts, which includes unsaturated fats, antioxidants, protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and phytosterols, maybe what’s responsible for the protective effects. Professor Willett says, “Like most good things it’s a package.”
Researchers saw similar results for both peanuts (which are legumes), and tree nuts such as almonds, cashews, and pecans. The family of tree nuts also includes Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, and others.
Professor Willett cautions against eating too many nuts, though. He suggests using them to replace cheese or meat on salads, tossing some into your yogurt, and mixing them with legumes for protein-rich vegetarian dishes.
Mediterranean diet linked to longer life:
The Mediterranean diet, already considered one of the healthiest diets because of its link to reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases, has a new feather in its cap. A study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) researchers found women who regularly consumed this diet – rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits, vegetables, and wine in moderation may – live longer. The study was published on December 2, 2014, online in The BMJ (British Medical Journal).
The researchers studied nutritional data from 4,676 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study. They found that those who ate mostly a Mediterranean diet had longer telomeres, a biomarker linked to longevity.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.