Longevity Hacks

Eating These 2 Fruits Might Help Prevent Frailty Later in Life

It’s all in the flavanols.

An illustration of a woman eating fruit.
Inverse; Getty Images
Longevity Hacks

What’s good to eat for a long, healthy life? Vegetables? Whole grains? Miller High Life?

Everyone knows aging is no picnic. Even if you long outlive the average lifespan, you then face new challenges of living in a body that’s growing increasingly frail. These changes can bring higher risks for serious injuries. While we know nutrition is important, we’re still searching for the exact mechanisms through which food helps keep us in tip-top shape.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals one compound linked with lower odds of developing frailty in old age, or the syndrome that makes every health event, from strokes to falls, riskier. The dietary compounds called flavanols, according to this study, seem to keep frailty at bay. According to the paper, 10 to 15 percent of adults experience frailty in old age.

Flavanols are a type of polyphenol, which naturally occur in plants. Polyphenols act as antioxidants, protecting your cells and DNA from everyday damage that comes with ultraviolet light exposure and pollution. Nearly all fruits and vegetables contain flavanols, though the study underscores apples and blackberries as particularly good sources.

The paper’s findings suggest that consuming at least 10 milligrams of flavanols daily as associated with odds of frailty reduced by 20 percent. Good news: A medium-sized apple contains just about that many flavanols. In particular, the authors give a shoutout to the flavanol quercetin, which is known to protect against tissue injuries caused by drug toxicity. It’s also characterized as a fighter against other deleterious conditions, including obesity, high cholesterol, and hypertension.

The researchers used data from the Framingham Heart Study, which began in 1948 as a large-scale, long-term way to study heart health across generations. This analysis looked at 1,701 people over about 12 years. None of the participants had developed frailty at the study’s start, and by the end about 13 percent of them had.

One of the study’s authors had received grant funding from biotechnology company Solarea Bio, and he also serves on their scientific advisory board. Solarea Bio specializes in looking at microorganisms in our food as they relate to our health.

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