From 2019 to 2021, average life expectancy in america This was a decrease of 2.7 years, the largest two-year difference since the 1920s. In response, many people are taking a closer look at how their lifestyle choices, including diet, can counter this trend, maximize health, and extend lifespan. doing.
What are flavonoids? What is their role in promoting longevity? Adding them to your diet may reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases.
What are flavonoids?
Flavonoids are nutrients that occur naturally in plants. Eating these phytonutrients helps prevent and repair cell damage in your body.they are Found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains, legumes, nuts, and even plant-based beverages like tea, coffee, and wine. In total, Scientists have identified more than 5,000 naturally occurring flavonoids.
What makes these natural compounds so powerful for promoting health? First things first: Science shows flavonoids teeth:
“The purpose of antioxidants is to neutralize free radicals and damage in the body,” says Kelly Hawkins, RD. Simply put, it means preventing and repairing natural damage and stress. ” If repairs are not done, chronic diseases can develop and affect health.
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According to research Foods rich in flavonoids It helps protect against certain diseases such as cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Flavonoids can help extend a person’s lifespan and promote overall health by lowering the risk of developing these chronic diseases.
What types of foods contain flavonoids?
These powerful phytonutrients are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. “When you think about flavonoids, think about color,” says Hawkins. They affect the color of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. ”
When shopping in the produce section, look for the brightest fruits and vegetables. It is rich in flavonoids.
example Foods rich in flavonoidsAlso known as “superfoods”, there are:
Leafy greens (kale, spinach, romaine, etc.)
Berries (strawberries, blueberries, elderberries, etc.)
Citrus fruits (grapefruit, lemon, lime, etc.)
Red wine is also a good source of phytonutrients, but Danica Cowan, a registered dietitian at the Osher Center for Integrative Health at the University of California, San Francisco, warns against drinking too much. “Yes, certain types of wine are probably good sources of flavonoids, but the downside of alcohol is pretty definitive,” she says. “Less is more.”
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About flavonoids and longevity
In addition to reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases, In the 2023 survey, Eating a diet rich in flavonoids may delay aging. Researchers studied the diets of 3,193 people and measured their flavonoid intake. They then compared each person’s chronological age to their biological age, which was calculated based on biomarkers in their blood.
result? The group with the highest intake of flavonoids had a younger biological age and was found to age more slowly than the group with the lowest intake of flavonoids. The data also revealed decreased whole-body aging and slower heart and liver aging in the high-flavonoid group. In other words, their hearts, livers, and bodies (overall) were biologically younger than their chronological age.
Although further research is needed to confirm and investigate these findings, this study is one of the first to investigate a possible link between flavonoid intake and aging. Longevity extension and its impact on quality of life are two of his areas of potential future research.
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where to start
For most people, the steps to maximize the powerful benefits of flavonoids are simple and easy to start. “When people start hearing hard-sounding words like phytonutrients, they get overwhelmed,” Cowan explains. “But you know what? Unless you’re a scientist, they don’t really matter. If you’re trying to eat healthier, the goal is to eat more fruits and vegetables.”
Here are three easy ways to enrich your diet with flavonoid-rich foods.
Start where you are
As a first step, Cowan recommends that clients continue to: food diary To see what their eating habits are like now. It doesn’t have to be complicated or include portion sizes or calories. Write down everything you eat for 3-7 days.
Then look at your diary and see how you’re measuring. Cowan recommends that fruits and vegetables make up at least half of your plate. “Look at all your meals and ask, ‘Where can I add more fruits and vegetables to this?'” Try adding some foods.
For example, frozen vegetables are easy to add to meals, affordable, non-perishable, and rich in flavonoids and antioxidants, making them great to have on hand. “You can add frozen spinach to just about anything,” Hawkins points out. “Whether I’m making a smoothie, making eggs, or making soup, I just grab a handful of frozen spinach and throw it in.”
While following a specific plan, such as the Mediterranean diet, Blue Zones diet, or anti-inflammatory diet, can be helpful, making small, ongoing changes to your current diet may be a more approachable starting point. “It doesn’t hurt to start where you are,” Cowan says. “There’s no such thing as a perfect diet. It’s about progress, not perfection.”
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Rethink meal preparation
Don’t like certain fruits or vegetables? Try preparing them in different ways. “Historically, people didn’t like Brussels sprouts because everyone boiled them,” Cowan explains. “As soon as I understood how to roast, everyone loved it. A good cook can make anything delicious.”
Roasting food is especially effective for many vegetables, as it reduces bitterness and neutralizes the flavor, if not delicious. “Maybe it’s not your favorite food,” Cowan says.If I do not dislike You can also mix it with other things. ”
At the same time, try adding spice to your meals. Herbs make food more appealing to the taste buds and are rich in phytonutrients. for example, Dried parsley contains more flavonols (per gram) than red onions, goji berries, and cranberries. Other herbs rich in flavonoids include:
Cowan encourages her clients to experiment with spices and get creative. “Much of what makes food delicious comes from nature and is also good for us.”
What if you’ve spent your whole life not eating or liking vegetables? “You can always try something new,” Cowan says. “It’s never too late to rethink your relationship with food, especially vegetables.” Whatever your reason for changing your diet, there’s always something you can do to get closer to your goals.
Some people are motivated by an illness or medical diagnosis. “When people start getting over 50, there’s a realization that their bodies aren’t invincible. But it’s not hopeless,” Hawkins says. “If you have a diagnosis of diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, there are many things you can do to improve it. And I have seen many clients work hard and achieve great success.”
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Increasing dietary intake of flavonoids has many benefits, including promoting heart and brain health. Promotes longevity and health by reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases. When setting a goal to eat more flavonoid-rich foods, it’s important to start where you are, get creative with your meal preparation, and be open to change, even if it’s a small change.
Remember, if you decide to change your diet, you should talk to your health care team to make sure it’s the right plan for you and will address your health concerns.
Kerry Larkey, MSN, RN is a freelance writer based in the SF Bay Area. With nearly 15 years of experience as a registered nurse, she writes evidence-based content with actionable steps to optimize your health and wellness. She uses her expertise in critical care and nursing education to advocate for improved safety and quality of health care. Her latest work can be found at: kellylarkey.com.
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