For the first time a scientific study has linked diets high in polyphenols from fruits and nuts to longevity, with the beneficial compounds tied to a 30 percent reduction in mortality in older adults, according to a report in ScienceDaily
The research, published in the Journal of Nutrition, is the first to evaluate polyphenol intake using a nutritional biomarker and not just food surveys.
The findings — by an international team of experts from the University of Barcelona, Italian National Research Centre on Aging, and the National Institute on Aging of the United States — are based on a 12-year study of 807 men and women aged 65 or over from Tuscany.
Researchers analyzed the effect of polyphenol-rich diets using a nutritional biomarker — the total urinary polyphenol (TUP) concentration — as a proxy measure of intake.
The results showed overall mortality was reduced by nearly one-third in people whose diets were rich in polyphenols, compared to those who ate lower levels of foods containing the compounds.
"The development and use of nutritional biomarkers enables to make a more precise and, particularly, more objective estimation of intake as it is not only based on participants' memory when answering questionnaire," noted lead researcher Cristina Andrés Lacueva, head of the Biomarkers and Nutritional & Food Metabolomics Research Group of the UB.
"This methodology makes a more reliable and accurate evaluation of the association between food intake and mortality or disease risk."
Polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds in fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea, and nuts that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties.
Researcher Raúl Zamora Ros said the study confirms past research that has suggested a diet high in such compounds offers significant health benefits.
"The 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," he said.