Plant based nutrients have been providing us with health benefits for hundreds of thousands of years but research into these benefits continues. This week’s Nutrition News looks at the latest research that may help us extend our life expectancy, reduce blood pressure and support brain health.

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The link between garlic and blood pressure

Garlic, and garlic powder, is associated with a number of health benefits for its antioxidant properties and immune system support. A recent study has extended these health benefits to blood pressure management.

The study, which was reported by NutraIngredients, took the form of a randomised double blind intervention in which 67 participants consumed 250 mg of black garlic supplement or a placebo over a six week period. The results showed that after the six week period, which included a three week washout period before the crossover, the garlic supplement substantially lowered diastolic blood pressure (DBP) by an average of 5.85 ml of mercury (mm Hg). The researchers noted that this was particularly true of the male participants.

One of the lead researchers in the study noted that this was significant because a 5mm Hg reduction of diastolic blood pressure substantially lowers the risk of stroke and other vascular events, illustrating the food’s potential in supporting heart health.

New study shows that dietary changes could add a decade to life expectancy

A well-publicised study that has been published this week, and reported by Science Daily, has managed to calculate how many years we could expect to add to our life expectancy by making alterations to our diet. The benefits of a Mediterranean style diet over a Western diet have been talked about for many years but this is the first study of its kind to calculate exactly what these benefits might look like in terms of life expectancy.

Interestingly, the study, which was carried out by Lars Fadnes of the University of Bergen, Norway found that the extended life expectancy wasn’t isolated to those who made dietary changes in their younger years but that those as old as 80 could see improvements.

The study found that if an individual at the age of 20 switched to a diet high in legumes, wholegrains, and nuts, whilst consuming fewer red meat and processed meat products, their life expectancy could increase by as much as 10 years. If the changes were carried out at the age of 60, then their life expectancy could be extended by 8 years and if implemented at 80, life expectancy could increase by 3.4 years.

It's worth noting that the research involved meta-analyses and data from the Global Burden of Diseases study rather than dedicated trials, however, the modelling could be used to help inform policy, the general public and healthcare practitioners to support people to live longer, healthier lives.

Evidence-based benefits of green tea

Green tea is often praised as a healthy alternative to other hot beverages, this recent video by Healthline covers some of the best evidence-based benefits of the drink.

As green tea is a great source of polyphenols, which are natural compounds that act as anti-inflammatories, it is an effective natural way of reducing inflammation. Green tea also contains a catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is an antioxidant that is thought to support cognitive health and increase fat or calorie burning.

It is not just EGCG that gives green tea its brain supporting properties but also its L-theanine content. L-theanine is an amino acid that can cross the blood-brain barrier and has anti-anxiety and stress support effects.

As green tea contains less caffeine than coffee, it can be a great option for people who are looking to reduce their caffeine intake whilst maintaining the benefits in a hot beverage.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is the Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.