How to live longer: What is the best vegetable to increase your life expectancy?

Viewing the world through the lens of science could be dispiriting, as research continues to shed light on the many diseases that threaten to shorten your life. A more optimistic way of looking at science is that it can guide you to make informed decisions that can add years to your life, by identifying the decisions that will ultimately kill you.


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Eating an unhealthy diet is the clearest example of this. Certain foods have been shown to trigger mechanisms that can lead to heart disease.

Heart disease, a term that describes what happens when your heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries, is a major killer both in the UK and worldwide.

Foods high in saturated fats, for example, can send your blood pressure soaring and cause harmful levels of cholesterol – a waxy substance found in your blood – to build up in your blood.

Both these mechanisms cause your arteries to narrow, restricting the supply of blood to your heart, this is the primary cause of heart attacks.

Eating a low-fat, high-fibre diet, consisting of plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (five portions a day) and whole grains, can protect against these life-threatening complications.

While it may be self-evident that eating vegetables can boost your health, particular items have been shown to offer numerous benefits so packing them into your diet is key to living a long life.

The properties found in onions, for example, provide a host of important health benefits, all of which can help to increase your life expectancy.

Onions contain antioxidants and compounds that fight inflammation, decrease triglycerides – another type of blood fat, and reduce cholesterol levels — all of which may lower heart disease risk.

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Antioxidants are compounds that inhibit oxidation, a process that leads to cellular damage and contributes to diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Quercetin is a flavonoid antioxidant that’s highly concentrated in onions. Since it’s a potent anti-inflammatory, it may help decrease heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure.

A study in 70 overweight people with high blood pressure found that a dose of 162 mg per day of quercetin-rich onion extract significantly reduced systolic blood pressure by 3–6 mmHg compared to a placebo.

Systolic blood pressure is a number used to record your blood pressure reading. It indicates your risk of having a heart attack so it is important to keep it check.


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Onions have also been shown to decrease cholesterol levels.

A study in 54 women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) found that consuming large amounts of raw red onions (40–50 grams/day if overweight and 50–60 grams/day if obese) for eight weeks reduced total and “bad” LDL cholesterol compared to a control group.

What is LDL cholesterol?

Cholesterol comes in two types: LDL and HDL. The former is often branded “bad” because high levels of it raises your risk of heart disease.

In contrast, HDL cholesterol absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver, where it is flushed out of the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Additionally, evidence from animal studies supports that onion consumption may reduce risk factors for heart disease, including inflammation, high triglyceride levels and blood clot formation.

Other ways to increase your lifespan

Combining a healthy diet with regular exercise is the best way of maintaining a healthy weight, and having a healthy weight reduces your chances of developing high blood pressure.

Regular exercise will also 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.

For optimal benefits, the health body recommends 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.

Physical activity can include anything from sport to walking and gardening.

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