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26 August 2019

The key to a long life? Apples and tea, according to experts

New research has found that people who consumed moderate to high amounts of foods rich in flavonoids regularly, were less likely to die from cancer or heart disease.

Apples and tea are rich in flavonoids, a group of plant compounds which provide health benefits.

While apples are rich in antioxidants, dietary fibre and vitamins, tea provides benefits such as helping with weight loss and protecting your bones. Now, experts suggest that apples and tea can prevent heart disease and cancer, particularly in heavy drinkers and smokers. 

Less cancer and heart disease

New research from Edith Cowan University (ECU) looked at the data of 53 048 Danes over the course of 23 years from the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health cohort. The study, published in Nature Communications, found that people who consumed moderate to high amounts of foods rich in flavonoids regularly were less likely to die from cancer or heart disease. Participants who consumed 500mg of flavonoids each day had the lowest risk of cancer or heart disease-related death. 

Dr Nicola Bondonno, lead researcher of the study, said that although the study found that the risk of death was lower individuals who consumed flavonoid-rich foods, the effect was stronger for those who faced a high risk of chronic diseases caused by cigarette smoking or those who drank more than two standard alcoholic beverages a day.

"These findings are important as they highlight the potential to prevent cancer and heart disease by encouraging the consumption of flavonoid-rich foods, particularly in people at high risk of these chronic diseases," she said.

It was also noted that flavonoid consumption does not counteract all risks associated with smoking and high alcohol consumption. It is recommended that people should quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption as far as possible. "We know these kinds of lifestyle changes can be very challenging, so encouraging flavonoid consumption might be a novel way to alleviate the increased risk, while also encouraging people to quit smoking and reduce their alcohol intake."

Flavonoids anti-inflammatory

Bondonno also recommended that people should consume a variety of flavonoid compounds, which is found in different plant based food and drinks. "This is easily achievable through the diet: one cup of tea, one apple, one orange, 100g of blueberries and 100g of broccoli would provide a wide range of flavonoid compounds and over 500mg of total flavonoids," she said. 

While previous research has established an association between flavonoid consumption and lower risk of death, the nature of the effect was not clear and considered multifaceted. "Flavonoids have been shown to be anti-inflammatory and improve blood vessel function, which may explain why they are associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease and cancer," according to Bondonno.

Dr Bondonno said that the next step in terms of research is to look more closely at the types of heart disease and cancers that were most inhibited by flavonoids. 

Image credit: iStock

 
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