6 Foods and Drinks That Can Lengthen Your Life

Here's how to eat your way to better health -- including lowering your risk of potentially fatal health conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

6 Foods and Drinks That Can Lengthen Your Life Photo by gorillaimages / Shutterstock.com

Make a few simple changes to your diet, and you might add several valuable years to your time on this planet. It sounds too good to be true, but scientific studies back up the claim.

Research has shown that consuming certain foods can reduce your risk of being diagnosed with illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Get out your pen and notepad — or note-taking app — because it’s time to make a grocery list. The following foods can lengthen your life.

1. Berries

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Not only are berries naturally sweet and delicious, they’re rich in antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C and E.

According to the Kettering Health Network, a nonprofit hospital system in Ohio, berries that are especially high in antioxidants include blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.

Antioxidants offer several health benefits. They help:

  • Reduce inflammation.
  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Prevent cell damage due to aging, environmental factors and genetics.
  • Help prevent some types of cancer.
  • Reduce the risk for diabetes and stroke.

Berries are also rich in flavonoids, which prevent plaque buildup in your arteries and reduce the risk of heart disease.

2. Nuts

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Eating a handful of nuts every day can save your life, according to researchers at Maastricht University in Holland.

Their study, released in 2015, found that people who eat at least 10 grams of nuts or peanuts per day have a lower risk of dying from the following conditions:

  • Respiratory disease
  • Neurodegenerative disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease

But peanut butter is not associated with a lower risky of dying. The researchers speculated that the negative health effects of salt and trans fatty acids found in peanut butter might inhibit peanuts from doing their good work.

3. Tea

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Chinese legend says that nearly 5,000 years ago, leaves from a Camellia sinensis plant tumbled into the emperor’s cup of boiling water, and humanity’s love affair with tea was born.

Studies have shown a strong link between tea’s antioxidant properties and a reduced risk of heart disease. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, black tea appears to reduce the risk of heart attack, while green tea is associated with:

  • Lower total cholesterol levels
  • Lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels
  • Lower triglyceride levels
  • Higher good cholesterol (HDL) levels

Tea also has been associated with other health benefits, including improving dental health and aiding weight loss efforts.

4. Coffee

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Like tea, coffee is loaded with antioxidants and can help prevent heart disease and other illnesses. A study published in 2016 found that women who drink coffee have a significantly reduced risk of dementia.

Older people who drink coffee also appear to have lower odds of dying from certain causes than those who shun java, according to a 2012 study by the National Institutes of Health. Those causes of death include:

  • Heart disease
  • Respiratory disease
  • Stroke, injuries and accidents
  • Diabetes
  • Infections

5. Flaxseed

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Flaxseed is pretty popular these days. Many people are convinced of its widespread health benefits, but researchers are still teasing out the facts from the wishful thinking, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

What’s clear is that flaxseed is high in dietary fiber, and eating foods containing dietary fiber is linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer. AICR explains:

“Dietary fiber seems to play a role in lowering cancer risk through its ability to provide a feeling of satiation, which could help with weight control. (Excess body fat is a cause of eleven cancers.) Healthful bacteria in the colon may also use dietary fiber to produce substances that protect colon cells.”

Flaxseed also is known to be a good source of other nutrients, including:

  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Thiamin
  • Selenium

6. Legumes

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Legumes include beans, peas and lentils. They are rich in several nutrients, including:

  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Good fats
  • Fiber
  • Protein

The nonprofit Mayo Clinic notes that the amount of protein in legumes makes them a healthy alternative to meat, which is higher in fat and cholesterol.

A 2012 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that eating a diet rich in legumes helped people with Type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar and also reduced their risk of heart disease.

Do you know of other foods that can lengthen your life? Share them by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

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