10 a day fruit and veg – the realistic answer

10-a-day? Here is a more realistic answer

If you are at all health conscious, you already knew that eating fruits and vegetables reduced the risk of disease. And that 5 a day was the official target.

Now researchers at from Imperial College London have conducted a meta-survey – a summary of 95 existing studies involving 2 million people. They conclude that increasing the portions of fruit and vegetables you consume from five to 10 a day could significantly reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer – and dying prematurely.

But for most people 10 a day is a daunting and seemingly unachievable aim – as was clear from the immediate reactions on social media:

10 portions a day for a family of 5 – that’s 350 portions a week!”

“I don’t think I could even name 10 different fruits and vegetables.”

“I’d be a walking compost heap!”

So what should you do? Fortunately there are smarter ways to an ideal diet than a guilt-ridden rush to 10 a day.

The 1-minute Summary

The health effect of fruits and vegetables is due to far more than just their vitamin and mineral content – they contain compounds called carotenoids and polyphenols which have a major health benefit.

Choosing the fruits and vegetables with the highest concentration of polyphenols and carotenoids – as well as vitamins and minerals – makes more sense that struggling to reach the simple number of 10 a day.

This article lists 16 superfoods fruits and vegetables and why they are so healthy.

There are other foods to consider with health benefits that are equally vital.

A simple vitamin pill won’t help you to a 10 a day status, but a supplement that includes polyphenols and carotenoids can. Because the chemical effect of these plant derived extracts in the body is the same.

Just why are fruit and vegetables so healthy?

Fruits and vegetables certainly contain vitamins and minerals. But equally importantly they contain other nutrients known as polyphenols (including the sub-group of polyphenols called flavonoids) and carotenoids.

Polyphenols and flavonoids

Polyphenols are compounds that the plants produce to defend themselves against damage from ultraviolet light, from pathogens, and from oxidative (free radical) damage.

When we eat these plants, we absorb these same defensive properties. DNA is better protected from damage – which accounts for the reduction in cancer risk. Tissues are better protected against inflammation – which is now known to be the main driver of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

So polyphenols are known to help:

  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve the flexibility of arteries and blood vessels
  • Prevent blood platelets from clumping together

All the above benefits reduce heart disease risk.

In addition, polyphenols reduce inflammation – which New Scientist confirms is a key driver of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, sexual dysfunction, several cancers and is strongly implicated in Alzheimer’s. Moreover certain polyphenols, especially in dark red and blue fruits, can inhibit the spread of cancer.

As Dr Paul Clayton – the former chair of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Forum on Food and Health – puts it:

A polyphenol-rich diet ensures your blood chemistry is hostile to heart disease and cancer.”

So it’s not surprising that research shows that those people who consume the largest amounts of polyphenols were shown in one Journal of Nutrition study to have up to a 31% reduction in total mortality.

There are many polyphenols (over 8,000!) but some of the best researched with the most powerful health benefits are a group known as flavonoids, which have both anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. You’ll find them in fruits, vegetables, legumes, green tea, red wine, dark (70%) chocolate, olive oil, grapeseed extract and curcumin.

Other types of polyphenol include the tannins in coffee, wine and tea, and the anthocyanins in blueberries, cherries and blackberries. One unique type of polyphenol (diferuloylmethane), found in curcumin, has an exceptional ability to fight free radical damage and reduce inflammation. A number of plants contain more than one type of polyphenol.

Generally polyphenols and flavonoids are found most abundantly in the outer layers of plants and in the colouring. That’s why the richest sources of fruit polyphenols are found in the darker fruits like blackcurrants, blueberries and raspberries.

Flavonoids: Isoflavones and flavanols

An important sub-group of flavonoids are isoflavones, found in soy, peanuts, chick peas, alfalfa and fava beans. It is the high consumption of soy isoflavones, along with the flavanols (another flavonoid sub-group) in green tea (called catechins), that has been suggested as a reason for the lower cancer rates in Japan. The only cancer that is higher in Japan than the West is stomach cancer which is linked to their high salt intake.


Another important group of plant compounds are carotenoids.

Beta carotene

These are powerful anti-oxidants that include beta carotene found in orange plants like carrots and sweet potato – but also in dark green leafy vegetables. Beta carotene is converted by the body to vitamin A, which is essential to vision, a strong immune function and normal growth and development.

Lycopene and lutein

Perhaps even more protective is lycopene found mainly in tomatoes and linked to breast and prostate health. Lutein is another carotenoid which is also found in leafy greens like spinach and kale. Lutein is protective of eye health and is linked to a lower risk of macular degeneration.

By conferring their anti-oxidant protection to you, carotenoids deliver strong cancer-fighting properties, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. In addition, their anti-inflammatory and immune system properties are linked to cardiovascular disease prevention.

Fruits and vegetables are not the only plant foods that contain the health protective polyphenols and carotenoids, they are in herbs, spices, nuts and seeds too.

Because it’s not just about vitamins and minerals

Their polyphenol, flavonoid and carotenoid content are the key reason why fruits and vegetables give such impressive health benefits. And why researchers rightly point out that a simple one-a-day vitamin pill won’t deliver the same health benefits. Such supplements don’t contain either polyphenols or carotenoids.

Better fruit and vegetable nutrient absorption with healthy fats

The focus on fruits and vegetables ignores another fact if you are trying to follow the most health protective diet.

The bio-availability of polyphenols from food is not high and the nutrients are better absorbed in a diet that includes healthy fats – like Omega 3 fish oil.

There is now a strong recommendation that we should eat 2-3 portions of oily fish a week. That’s because the Omega 3 fatty acids they contain are strongly associated with healthy vision, normal brain function, reduced depression and joint health – as well as linked to a reduction in symptoms of ADHD in children with the syndrome.

So we are already beginning to see why optimum health is much more complicated than just aiming for 10 a day.

THE TOP 16 – Getting the biggest bang for your nutritional buck

Not all fruits and vegetables have the same degree of health benefit. So by focusing on the ones with the highest concentrations of vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, flavonoids and carotenoids, you don’t necessarily need to reach the 10 a day target.

Here are the top 16 foods based on a European Journal of Clinical Nutrition table and our own analysis of their combined polyphenol, carotenoid, vitamin and mineral counts – and considering their ready availability as menu ingredients.

It is not an accident that vegetables (rather than fruits) head the list as the London University study showed that vegetables were particularly strong protectors against disease.

  1. Kale
    High in a polyphenol called kaempferol, an anti-oxidant that has been shown to prevent damage to cells and inhibit the formation of cancer cells. Also includes beta carotene, vitamin K2 (cardio protective because it reduces inflammation), lutein (eye health), vitamin C (immune system and skin and connective tissue health) and manganese (healthy bones and metabolism).
  2. Spinach
    Includes a range of flavonoids which have anti-cancer properties. Also includes lutein, vitamin K, vitamin C, folic acid, magnesium (heart healthy), calcium, B vitamins (essential for energy) and potassium (heart) and fibre.
    This is a test.
  3. Broccoli, Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts
    Rich in anti-oxidant polyphenols that include the anti-cancer glucosinolates and a good source of the minerals selenium (linked to lower overall cancer risk) and manganese (normal nerve function), plus folic acid (heart health) and fibre (lower bowel cancer risk).
  4. Tomatoes
    Ideally cooked in olive oil. Why? Because tomatoes are the key source of the carotenoid lycopene but this is less bio-available in raw form. Lycopene is also important for bone health and can help lower LDL – the ‘bad form of cholesterol. Tomatoes are high in vitamin C, biotin (nervous system health), molybdenum (an important catalyst for other nutrients) and folic acid (helps prevent DNA damage).
  5. Blackcurrants, chokeberries, bilberries and blueberries
    These all contain polyphenols called anthocyanins. These are protective plant compounds that give the fruits their deep vibrant colour. They have been shown to help inhibit both the initiation and spread of cancer cells. One study showed that a cup of mixed berries lowered blood pressure and raised HDL – the ‘good’ form of cholesterol.
    Raspberries and strawberries will give you the same sort of health benefit but at a slightly lower potency.
  6. Cocoa
    Cocoa is one of the very highest polyphenol-rich foods, and those polyphenols (the flavonoid sub-group flavonols) are cardio-protective. They reduce inflammation in artery walls that otherwise leads to atherosclerosis and the risk of heart attack. So much so that certain pharmaceutical companies are trying to create drugs from them! Prefer cocoa powder but dark chocolate is a good and tasty source.
  7. Onions, leeks and garlic
    Onions and leeks are allium vegetables that contain a different class of anti-oxidant polyphenols. These particular polyphenols have been shown to improve the flexibility of artery walls and hence reduce blood pressure. Garlic contains similar polyphenols to onions, but at higher concentrations, and garlic polyphenols can help block the formation of blood clot platelets. So their combined effect is to reduce heart disease risk. Garlic can also enhance your immunity due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties.
  8. Spices and seasonings
    If you want the highest level of polyphenols per gram weight, several spices and seasonings come at the very top. However, you don’t eat many grams of spices, so the amount of polyphenols you consume is not high.
    Nevertheless, cooking with cloves, basil, oregano, celery seed, sage, thyme, turmeric, ginger and rosemary will boost your polyphenol intake. In fact researchers of one of the famous ‘blue zones’ (geographical areas with the highest percentage of fit and healthy centenarians) lists their liberal use of rosemary as one of the reasons for their longevity. See article on blue zones here.
    Curcumin – derived from turmeric – is an especially potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient with substantial research to support its use in cooking and as a supplement.
  9. Nuts and seeds
    Data from the US National Institutes of Health confirms that “nuts are high in polyphenol antioxidants which would inhibit the oxidative (free radical) processes that lead to atherosclerosis”. They do this by improving the flexibility of arterial walls and reducing inflammation. The nuts and seeds with the highest polyphenol count are celery seeds, flaxseeds, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, roasted soy beans, almonds and walnuts.
  10. Plums and prunes (which are dried plums)
    Everyone knows that prunes have a laxative effect. Less well known is the fact that they are high in a class of polyphenols that have been shown to help prevent carcinogens binding with DNA and causing mutations – and that they help lower LDL cholesterol.
  11. Peppers – Sweet and Chili
    Green, red, orange, yellow sweet peppers and chili peppers are twice as high in vitamin C as oranges. They contain folic acid and are high in the anti-oxidant magnesium and in iron. The brain has a high fatty acid content and is therefore vulnerable to oxidation or free radical damage – rather as fat left out oxidises or goes rancid! The particular polyphenols in peppers (capsicum) have been shown to protect against oxidative damage of both the brain and liver.
  12. Grapes
    Grape seeds, grape skins and grape juice all contain several types of polyphenols – resveratrol, phenolic acids, anthocyanins, and flavonoids. An article in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences confirms that: “The dietary consumption of grape and its products is associated with a lower incidence of degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancers.” There is a high concentration of polyphenols in both the seeds (which is why it is a useful supplement) and the skin, which accounts for the positive effect of red wine – in moderate amounts!
  13. Olives
    Go for olives, black or green that are preserved in oil rather than salt/brine, because salt preservation reduces their polyphenol content.
  14. Apples
    They contain 4 types of polyphenol. So does an apple a day really keep the doctor away? Well, research indicates it may keep the grim reaper at bay – as several animal studies suggest these polyphenols may switch on genes associated with improved longevity. And the polyphenols in apples are linked to lower heart attack rates.
  15. Citrus fruits including oranges, tangerines and lemons
    These are high in vitamin C which works synergistically with vitamin E to be cardio-protective. Interestingly, a study (referenced below) shows that over 80% of the anti-oxidant potency of citrus fruits is due to their polyphenol, rather than vitamin C content.
  16. Beetroot
    This vegetable contains an unusual polyphenol (neobetanin) that has been shown to help reduce blood sugar levels and improve insulin response. So it should help lower the risk, and improve the symptoms of, diabetes. Beetroot also contains a nutrient called betaine. Betaine, a quasi B vitamin, is proving to be an effective supplement for heart health as – in conjunction with other B vitamins – it reduces the levels of a blood protein called homocysteine. And people with high homocysteine levels are at significant risk of heart disease.

Of course other fruits and vegetables are also definitely valuable, but neither their polyphenol nor carotenoid content is as high as the listed foods.

The above analysis helps us understand why the authors of the Imperial meta-survey were able to claim that:

“Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune system.

“This may be due to the complex network of nutrients they hold… For instance they contain many antioxidants, which may reduce DNA damage, and lead to a reduction in cancer risk.”

Many of the polyphenols and carotenoids we have mentioned exert their health benefits through what is called gene expression. They have the ability to switch on ‘good’ genes and switch off genes that can lead to negative health.

The recommendation of more than 5 a day is not new – and is it realistic?

Although the advice has stirred a lot of comment, it’s not actually new. For over 4 years the American Cancer Society has been recommending 9 portions a day.

But we – along with leading health researchers – have mixed feelings about the call for 10 a day. It may well just demotivate people by being seen as unrealistic. Moreover for less well-off families it would be financially challenging.

Here’s our final recommendation:

  1. Emphasise the fruits and vegetables in your diet with the highest overall nutritional values – not simply looking at vitamins and minerals but at polyphenol and carotenoid content. Use the TOP 16 as much as possible and double, triple or quadruple your intake by combining different fruits and vegetables in smoothies, stir-fries, soups and fruit salads. See simple healthy ideas devised by TV cook Portia Spooner in collaboration with Dr Paul Clayton in the Health Defence Cookbook here online.

  2. Consider a supplement that includes polyphenols and carotenoids alongside simple vitamins and minerals.

Why health experts are now recommending some supplements – because less food means less nutrition

A few years ago Dr Paul Clayton, who is the former Chair of the Forum on Health at the Royal Society of Medicine, published a series of articles in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

In these articles he identified a fundamental fact which most researchers overlook.

Over the last 50 years – and due to our sedentary, low energy burning lifestyle – the average person has had to cut their calorie intake by almost 1,000 calories a day.

Less food means less nutrition. That’s compounded by the fact that the nutritional quality of some fruits and vegetables has measurably declined, and by the fact that urban pollution and the stresses of modern life have simultaneously increased our demand for those nutrients that confer protection to tissues and cells.

Dr Clayton agrees with other health experts that the priority in creating an ideal ‘health defensive’ diet is fresh fruit and vegetables. That’s because they contain such a wide range of polyphenols and carotenoids, some of which we have yet to identify.

But he is also adamant that a well-designed nutritional supplement can have an important part to play in enabling people to get the level and type of nutrients they need for a genuinely protective diet.

The science has moved on. It is now possible to isolate carotenoids like lycopene or lutein. And it’s possible to extract polyphenols from plants in the form of extracts of green tea, grapeseed and curcumin.

These individual polyphenols and carotenoids work in exactly the same way and have the same health benefits as they do in the original plant. Indeed in some cases they may even be better absorbed in supplement form.

A ‘well-designed’ supplement does not mean a simple a-z vitamin and mineral pill at just RDA levels. That will not make much difference. It should include polyphenols and carotenoids.

It should also deliver vitamins and minerals at an optimum level. Because the intake of some nutrients – like vitamins C, D and E, the B vitamins, which are critical for energy, and the minerals selenium and chromium – all need to be several times the minimum RDA levels before they deliver the maximum health benefits.

That ‘ideal’ supplement should also include Omega 3 fish oil, because we are now advised to eat 2-3 portions of oily fish a week – but like the 10-a-day recommendation, for most people this is also unrealistic.

Dr Clayton is not a theoretical scientist. He has used his 35 years of research on health and nutrition to advise on a supplement that includes a range of polyphenols, carotenoids, vitamins, minerals, Omega 3 and even CoQ10. It’s called Nutrishield – www.nutrishield.com and its aim has been to combine the nutrients found in the diets of the healthiest people.

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See the website www.healthdefence.com for excerpts and links to buy direct from the publisher.

See online here for delicious recipes from the Health Defence Cookbook incorporating healthy foods featuring in a Mediterranean Diet. Combined 3 courses strip


Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease. Kanti Bhooshan Pandey and Syed Ibrahim Rizvi: Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2009 Nov-Dec; 2(5): 270–278.

Nuts, especially walnuts, have both antioxidant quantity and efficacy and exhibit significant potential health benefits. Vinson JA, Cai Y. Food Funct. 2012 Feb;3(2):134-40. doi: 10.1039/c2fo10152a. Epub 2011 Dec 21.

Identification of the 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols: an application of the Phenol-Explorer database. Pérez-Jiménez J, Neveu V, Vos F, Scalbert A. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;64 Suppl 3:S112-20. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2010.221.

Cocoa Polyphenols and Inflammatory Markers of Cardiovascular Disease. Nasiruddin Khan, Olha Khymenets, Mireia Urpí-Sardà, Sara Tulipani, Mar Garcia-Aloy, María Monagas, Ximena Mora-Cubillos, Rafael Llorach, and Cristina Andres-Lacueva: European Food Research and Technology June 2007, Volume 225, Issue 2, pp 239–247

Polyphenols in red pepper [Capsicum annuum var. aviculare (Tepin)] and their protective effect on some pro-oxidants induced lipid peroxidation in brain and liver. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2002;505:113-22.

Polyphenol antioxidants in citrus juices: in vitro and in vivo studies relevant to heart disease. Vinson JA, Liang X, Proch J, Hontz BA, Dancel J, Sandone N. 2004 American Society for Clinical Nutrition.

Biological Activities of Polyphenols from Grapes. En-Qin Xia, Gui-Fang Deng, Ya-Jun Guo, and Hua-Bin Li: Int J Mol Sci. 2010; 11(2): 622–646.

Daily polyphenol intake in France from fruit and vegetables. Brat P, George S, Bellamy A, et al. J Nutr. 2006 Sep;136(9):2368-73.



Top 5 Easy Health Wins of 2016

Lose 14lbs/6kg by drinking 2 extra glasses of water a day

Young woman drinking glass of waterThe simple act of drinking more water is associated with reduced intakes of sugar, sodium (salt) and saturated fat – and easier weight control.

A study, published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, showed that people who increased their consumption of plain water by between one and three cups daily lowered total energy intake by 68-205 calories each day and their sodium intake by 78-235 g each day.

At the average calorie reduction of 140 calories a day, that could translate to a weight loss of 14lb (6.4kg) a year – just by drinking a bit more water!! Because there are 3,500 calories in a pound of body fat.

Researchers at the University of Illinois used a representative sample of more than 18,300 adults in the US from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2012.

The participants consumed an average of about 4.2 cups of plain tap water per day which accounted for just over 30% of their total water consumption.

Drinks such as tea, herbal tea and coffee were included in the calculations of total water consumption.

The average starting calorie intake for each participant was 2,157 calories, which included 125 calories from sugar-sweetened beverages and 432 calories from “discretionary foods” – desserts, pastries, ‘snack mixes’ and other non-essential foods. So their diet wasn’t ideal.

The results showed that the people who increased their water consumption by 1-3 cups a day also consumed 5-18g less sugar and 7-21g less cholesterol.

The effects were similar across race, ethnicity, education attainment, income level and body weight status – although they were larger among males than females, and among young or middle-aged adults than older adults.

So drinking 2 /3 cups more water a day could be the easiest ever diet plan, and also reduce your sodium intake – which has cardio (heart) benefits.

Since water intake also rids the body of waste through urination and bowel movements, keeps body temperature normal and lubricates and cushions joints – why not wander over to the tap right now?

REF: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/307306.php

Eat (a little!) chocolate every day to reduce diabetes and heart disease risk

Broken dark chocolate and chocolate flakes on a wooden tableIt seems that a little of what you fancy really does do you good!

Results published in British Journal of Nutrition from a joint study from Warwick University and the Luxembourg Institute of Health suggest that regular, moderate chocolate – especially dark chocolate – can confer health benefits.

The researchers analysed the chocolate consumption of 1,153 people aged 18-69 who were part of the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk in Luxembourg study. They found that 82% of the participants consumed chocolate, with an average consumption of 24.8 grams daily – almost one ounce.

Compared with participants who did not eat chocolate every day, the chocolate eaters had reduced insulin resistance and improved liver enzyme levels. Insulin resistance – where the body’s cells do not effectively respond to insulin – is a significant risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The effect was constant irrespective of the participants’ age, sex, education, lifestyle, and dietary factors.

Dark chocolate has the highest cocoa content, which means it has the highest levels of anti-oxidants – specifically polyphenols (flavonoids), which are phytochemicals (plant based molecules) that can help prevent free radical damage to cells.

However, the report notes that it is important to distinguish the difference between chocolate that contains higher amounts of natural cocoa and processed chocolate which is much higher in sugar and calories. They also caution: “Physical activity, diet and other lifestyle factors must also be carefully balanced to avoid detrimental weight gain over time”.

So it seems like an ounce of dark chocolate a day – or a spoonful of cocoa powder added to a smoothie mix – should be part of your health regime.

Of course there are many other polyphenols in, for example, green tea, dark berries, leafy green vegetables and curcumin that are also powerful anti-oxidants.

REF: https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/eating_chocolate_each/

Vitamin C  reduces risk of cataracts

fruits-citrusBy the time we are 75, the University of Michigan estimates that an estimated 50% of us will have some vision loss due to cataracts – and over 80% will be developing the condition.

A cataract is a clouding of the eye lens that impairs vision.

The good news is that scientists at Kings College London have found that enough vitamin C in your diet can cut your chances of getting cataracts by almost 40%.

The study – published in the journal Ophthalmology – looked at 1,000 pairs of identical female twins, so genetic differences were not a factor. They found that over 10 years, the twins with high amounts of vitamin C in their diet had a much lower risk of cataracts.

The fluid inside your eye is normally higher in vitamin C than other body parts. Scientists say the antioxidant properties of vitamin C help prevent oxidation/free radical damage of the eye lens that leads to cataracts.

The American Optometric Association confirms that “taking a supplement with at least 300 mg/day of vitamin C appears to help prevent cataract development”.  They also quote further research showing that women taking a daily supplement with a dosage of 364 mg experienced a 57 percent reduction in their risk of certain types of cataracts.

But cataracts are not the only, or even most serious, threat to sight. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study links Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) to nutrition. AMD is an eye condition that leads to the debilitating gradual loss of central vision.

The study (confirmed by others) showed that people at high risk for the disease who took 500 mg/day of vitamin C, along with beta-carotene, vitamin E and zinc, slowed the progression of advanced AMD by about 25 percent. Other studies have confirmed these results.

REF: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/newsevents/news/newsrecords/2016/03%20March/Increased-vitamin-C-in-the-diet-could-help-protect-against-cataracts.aspx

Zinc boosts cell health and fights infections

spinchResearchers from the University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital have found that just 4 milligrams (mg) of extra zinc a day in your diet can have a profound, positive impact on cellular health that helps fight infections and diseases.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was led by senior scientist Janet King PhD. King and her team are the first to show that even a modest increase in dietary zinc reduces oxidative stress and damage to DNA.

“We were pleasantly surprised to see that just a small increase in dietary zinc can have such a significant impact on how metabolism is carried out throughout the body,” says King.

Zinc is vital for a healthy immune system. It helps reduce inflammation and oxidative (free radical) stress in the body, both of which are linked to cardiovascular diseases and cancers. It also helps reduce the risk for diabetes and is important in wound healing.

Although the study was initially commission to assess the potential impact of bio-fortified crops the conclusions are relevant on a wide basis.

The Euro;ean Recommended Daily Amount (now generally referred to as Reference Nutrient Intake) of zinc is 10mg a day. Zinc-rich foods include seafood, flax seeds and spinach, but as these are not generally consumed in great quantities, supplements are an easier route.

REF: Sarah J Zyba, Janet C King et al. A moderate increase in dietary zinc reduces DNA strand breaks in leukocytes and alters plasma proteins without changing plasma zinc concentrations. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2016

Cook with rosemary and live to 100?

Bund Rosmarin isoliert auf weiem HintergrundBlue Zones are areas in the world where an exceptionally high proportion of people live in health to extreme old age. We’ve done articles on Blue Zones before because they do give us important lessons on lifestyles that produce healthy longevity.

Now we need to add another Blue Zone. It’s Acciaroli, a small town mostly given to be 2,000 people located on the southern tip of Italy’s Amalfi Coast.

With a population of just 2,000, the town claims up to 300 residents who are over 100 years of age. That means an astonishing 15% of the population is over 100 – or almost 1 person in 7!  They can be seen strolling on the beach, swimming and active about town.

The equivalent percentage of 100-year-olds in the UK is 0.0002 %. Or 1 person in 5,000!

This exceptional Blue Zone was discovered by Dr Alan Maisel who is a cardiologist and professor at the University of California at San Diego. He has partnered with the Sapienza University of Rome to try to work out why Acciaroli’s residents live so long.

Of course the town by definition eats the ‘Mediterranean Diet’ – lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, moderate red wine, and olive oil. But his less expected conclusions so far include:

Rosemary and anchovies


“Everybody eats rosemary. They all grow it. They use it as a garnish. They use it in oils,” says Dr Maisel.

Research has shown that rosemary has exceptional anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacity – the ability to neutralise excess free radical damage to tissues and DNA.

Rosemary has been shown to correlate with improved cognitive performance by increasing blood flow, particularly to the brain. An ingredient – carnosic  –  is believed to help prevent the formation of beta amyloid  plaques in the brain – a key characteristic of Alzheimer’s .

Studies at Kyoto University confirm that rosemary may ‘significantly help prevent brain ageing’.

Research published in Oncology Reports found that “rosemary extract has differential anti-proliferative effects on human leukemia and breast carcinoma cells.”

Yet another study published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, revealed that carnosic can significantly promote eye health.

Rosemary – meaning ‘sea dew’ – is a herb often used to garnish pastas, marinate seafood and in sauces for lamb and chicken.


Anchovies appear as part of almost every meal in Acciaroli. Like sardines and mackerel, they are rich in Omega 3, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory strongly linked to cardio health.

These two dietary ‘secrets’ are novel to Acciaroli and have not been found in other Blue Zone diets.

The other elements that Dr Maisel identifies as key to healthy longevity are clean air, high vitamin D levels from sunshine, and regular activity associated with their jobs and lifestyle and low stress. Those are all common to the other Blue Zones.

REFS: http://nypost.com/2016/04/12/if-you-want-to-live-forever-move-to-this-italian-town/



The conclusion from these 2016 ‘good news’ stories, however, is not to fixate on just one or two nutritional elements – even supposedly ‘super nutrients’ like vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, rosemary or anchovies.

Staying healthy is a combination of staying active, eating well and – we believe – using a supplement like Nutrishield that combines the most protective nutrients as identified from the world’s healthiest diets.


If you enjoyed this article, please share it with family and friends (see buttons below).

CTA Register NewsletterAnd register now for a free e-newsletter on the latest in nutrition and health research.

You can follow us on www.facebook.com/nutrishield or www.twitter.com/colinrose40 for daily headline health tweets.

Dr Paul Clayton designed NutriShield as a comprehensive healthbutton-2 supplement with OPTIMUM levels of essential nutrients. See more detail elsewhere on this site or click on the button.

Dr Paul Clayton’s best-selling book Health Defence is available from most good bookstores.

See the website www.healthdefence.com for excerpts and links to buy direct from the publisher.

See online here for delicious recipes from the Health Defence Cookbook  incorporating healthy foods featuring in a Mediterranean Diet. Combined 3 courses strip