Life expectancy is largely determined by how well you protect yourself from developing diseases that cause irreversible damage to your vital organs, such as your heart and brain.
Cancer and heart disease, for example, often loom large in people’s minds, and for good reason – they are major killers both in the UK and worldwide.
Fortunately, steps can be taken to stave off the risk of developing deadly diseases and certain foods have been shown to offer a robust defence.
It is well understood that diet plays a key role in protecting against life-threatening complications, and mounting evidence suggests specific food items can offer a host of health benefits.
Eating medjool dates, an edible sweet fruit, is a prime example, and numerous studies point to the nutritious benefits of eating the Moroccan fruit.
The sweet snack is rich in fibre and antioxidants which may help to protect your heart.
Evidence suggests that fibre can help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and keep your arteries clean, reducing your risk of heart disease.
READ MORE: How to live longer: Five diet tips to prevent disease and boost life expectancy
How to live longer: Medjool dates have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood and high levels of LDL cholesterol leads to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries and can act as a precursor to heart disease.
One test-tube study found that Medjool and other date varieties lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol and prevented the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
Plaque accumulation can eventually block blood flow, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
Medjool dates are also a rich source of antioxidants, which help fight damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals.
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The specific antioxidants found in Medjool dates – carotenoid and phenolic acid – have both been studied for their beneficial effects on heart health.
The antioxidants found in Medjool dates have also been shown to protect your cells from oxidative damage – a chemical reaction that takes place in the body that can lead to diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and brain ailments.
In addition, fibre plays an essential role in keeping your digestion healthy and eating enough fibre may also reduce your risk of digestive diseases like colorectal cancer.
In a three-week study, 21 people ate seven dates (168 grams) per day and significantly improved their bowel movement frequency, compared with when they didn’t eat dates.
How to live longer: Even modest exercise such as gardening can reduce your risk of heart attack
Animal studies have also been linked to the antioxidants found in dates to improved brain health, associating them with lower levels of inflammatory markers and reduced brain plaques associated with conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
One study in dried fruit found that dates had the highest antioxidant content when compared with figs and prunes.
In addition, the nutrients found in dates may also support bone health as they contain a small amount of calcium and are a good source of potassium, manganese, and copper, all of which are important nutrients for bone health.
In addition to eating certain food items, regular exercise can extend your longevity by fighting off a wide-range of deadly complications.
As Harvard Health noted: “Regular exercise helps fend off high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and a host of other chronic diseases.”
In a recent article in The American Journal of Medicine, Dr. Harvey Simon, associate professor of medicine at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital reviewed current research on the health effects on both ends of the exercise spectrum, from minimum to maximum.
Modest activity – even as little as one hour of walking or gardening per week —was linked to lower rates of heart attack, stroke, and death from all causes, according to an analysis of 22 studies that included more than 320,000 adults.
One study found that people who did moderate exercise just 15 minutes a day tended to live an average of three years longer than their inactive peers.