Wine, Beer and Chocolate: Eating and Drinking These Foods Linked to Living Longer

Consuming food and drink with anti-inflammatory properties could lower a person's risk of dying, according to a study.

Anti-inflammatory food and drink highlighted by researchers included vegetables, fruit, whole-grain bread, breakfast cereal, low-fat cheese, olive and canola oil, nuts, chocolate, tea and coffee. Moderate amounts of beer (at two to 14 servings per week) and red wine (between two and seven servings per week) also appeared to be beneficial.

Processed and unprocessed meats, offal, chips and soft drinks were categorized as pro-inflammatory foods that were best avoided.

The immune system triggers inflammation when the body is confronted with a potential threat, like a harmful chemical or microbes. That process can become problematic when inflammation becomes the body's default state. And evidence suggests that conditions from Alzheimer's to depression, cancer and heart disease could be caused by chronic inflammation.

In a study, anti-inflammatory foods such as wine and chocolate were linked to living longer. Getty Images

Researchers arrived at their conclusion after studying 68,273 men and women in Sweden over a 16-year period. The group was between 45 and 83 years of age at the start of the study.

Researchers also noted lifestyle choices among participants, such as smoking and levels of exercise, as well the participants' height, weight, and use of dietary supplements and drugs like corticosteroids. Each participant's diet was scored from zero to 16 according to the foods they consumed, with 16 indicating a diet full of anti-inflammatory foods.

Over the course of the study, 16,088 participants died, 5,980 due to cardiovascular disease and 5,252 by cancer. Those whose diets were packed with anti-inflammatory items had an 18 percent lower chance of dying from any cause, known as all-cause mortality, from the baseline, compared to those with who consumed fewer of those items. Their risk of dying of cardiovascular disease was 20 percent lower, and cancer was 13 percent.

Smokers appeared to benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet in particular, the authors concluded.

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The findings were published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

Dr. Joanna Kaluza, associate professor at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Poland, commented, "Our dose-response analysis showed that even partial adherence to the anti-inflammatory diet may provide a health benefit."

Aisling Pigott, qualified dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association who was not involved in the study, told Newsweek, "This study shows that diet can improve survival as well as incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancers. Although the focus of this research is on foods associated with anti-inflammatory process, it really just adds to our current knowledge that a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and unprocessed foods have positive health outcomes."

Scientists are still trying to understand why the body responds to certain foods with inflammation, she said. "This adds to the great body of research demonstrating the benefits of a balanced diet on disease and health."

Pigott concluded, "Following a healthy diet not only reduces your disease risk, but your survival outcomes. Enjoy your food, making positive choices where possible."