How to live longer: Eat this 50p fruit three times a week to boost life expectancy
It is testament to the authority of science and the dissemination of knowledge that we intuitively accept the benefits of eating a healthy diet. Research has shown beyond reasonable doubt that the foods we eat determine our lifespan. This is because the biggest killers, such as heart disease, are tied to poor lifestyle style choices.
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In fact, all the markers that lead to heart disease, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol (a waxy substance found in your blood), are strongly tied to eating an unhealthy diet.
While research exposes the ills of eating particular foods, it has also shed light on the benefits of others.
A prime example of this is the role that grapefruit plays in reducing risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.
In one study, people who ate grapefruit three times daily for six weeks experienced significant reductions in blood pressure over the course of the study.
They also showed improvements in total cholesterol and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels.
Total cholesterol is a measure of all the forms of cholesterol in your blood, including HDL cholesterol, which reduces your risk of heart disease and LDL cholesterol, which raises it.
These effects are likely due to the important nutrients that grapefruit contains, which play a role in keeping your heart functioning properly.
First, research has shown that grapefruit is fairly high in potassium, a mineral responsible for many aspects of heart health.
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Adequate potassium intake is associated with a reduced risk of high blood pressure, for example.
Additionally, it has been shown to lower the risk of death from heart disease.
Half a grapefruit provides about five percent of your daily potassium needs.
Second, the fibre in grapefruit may also boost heart health, given that a high fibre intake is associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, researchers claim.
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All told, researchers believe that including fibre and antioxidant-rich fruits like grapefruit as part of a healthy diet helps protect against conditions like heart disease and stroke.
General dietary rules to live by
To keep the risks of heart disease at bay, it is important to avoid foods high in saturated fats because these will increase the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood, warns the NHS.
Foods high in saturated fat include:
- Meat pies
- Sausages and fatty cuts of meat
- Gghee – a type of butter often used in Indian cooking
- Hard cheese
- Cakes and biscuits
- Foods that contain coconut or palm oil
“However, a balanced diet should still include unsaturated fats, which have been shown to increase levels of good cholesterol and help reduce any blockage in your arteries,” explains the NHS.
Foods high in unsaturated fat include:
- Oily fish
- Nuts and seeds
- Sunflower, rapeseed, olive and vegetable oils
To tick all the boxes, you should combine a healthy diet with regular exercise.
“Regular exercise will make your heart and blood circulatory system more efficient, lower your cholesterol level, and also keep your blood pressure at a healthy level,”explains the NHS.
Adults should do at least 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week, it adds.
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