Polyphenol Foods May be the Secret to Healthy Aging

Foods High in Polyphenols Can Help You Live Longer

Foods high in polyphenols

Polyphenol Anti Aging Foods – A Secret Japan Knows?

The oldest person in the world is Kane Tanaka, 115 years old living in Fukuoka, Japan. According to the World Health Organization, life expectancy in Japan is 84.2 years old. Men live on average 81.1 years and women live on average 87.1 years.

United States Life Expectancy

In 1900, life expectancy in the United States for men was 47.9 years and women 50.7 years. Women are expected to live to 81.2 years and men 76.4 years in the United States in 2016. We are living approximately 30 years longer than our great-grandparents!

It is a demographic time bomb waiting to happen – a rapidly aeing society is inevitable for the United States.

Aging problem

Longer life expectancies places pressure on health and social services. It is considered a threat to fiscal stability of developed and developing countries. The cost of care is expected to increase $40 billion by the year 2025 in the United States.

Japan population

Super-ageing is our destiny—it’s the natural consequence of human evolution

Hideyuki Okano, dean of Keio University’s school of medicine

Japan has one of the longest life expectancies and will be a model for future super-ageing societies. Today, 25% of the Japanese population is older than 65 years. The Japan Times reported that Japan’s birthrate has dropped to a historic all-time low. As inhabitants are aging, so is the workforce.

Healthy Aging

What makes Japan different? Is it the food that Japanese people eat? Or is it the way they live? Is there a longevity gene? Accessible healthcare system? 

Polyphenol Anti aging foods

Diet may be one of the island nation’s secret to a long and healthy life.

The Japanese diet has become more Westernized over the past 50 years. As the diet becomes more Westernized, the prevalence of disease has increased.

Interestingly, researchers have taken a look at the Japanese diet from 1975 which was shown to have the highest health benefit. The diet suppressed visceral fat accumulation (fat around your belly), liver fat, and high blood glucose.

Japanese diet by year

  • 1960: barley and rice, miso soup, Natto (fermented soybeans), tofu, pickles, fruit, fish (tuna, mackerel), pickled spinach, daikon, sweet potatoes
  • 1975: rice, egg,salt-grilled salmon, Natto, fried rice, chicken, fish (mackerel, flatfish, raw fish), fruit, udon, seaweed, miso soup, legumes
  • 2005: rice, egg, cabbage, tofu, miso soup, Natto, Ramen, Hamburger, spaghetti with meat sauce, yogurt with fruit, ginger pork, eggplant, chicken, potato salad

The amount of grains the locals ate was inversely proportional to the amount of meat and poultry they ate. More meat means the Japanese ate fewer grains.

They also ate much less fiber in 2005 compared to 1960.

They found that the mice on the 1975 Japanese diet lived longer.

The Japanese diet from 1975 contained highest amount of sugar, preserves, legumes, eggs, fruits, seaweed. More so, the diet was prepared with a variety of ingredients. Therefore, these food items may work for increasing life span. Researchers studied the 1975 Japanese diet (aka anti aging diet) compared to the 2005 diet on mice models.

What are polyphenols?

Researchers are investigating food that is rich in polyphenols. They discovered that there are numerous polyphenols benefits. Polyphenols are natural compounds found in food which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Accordingly, polyphenol-rich foods could have “anti-senescence” effects aka antiaging effects. The foods with the highest concentration of polyphenols with anti-aging activity are listed below.

Polyphenol Rich Foods

Apigenin: dried marjoram, italian oregano, common sage, olive oil

Curcumin: Turmeric and curry powder

Catechin: cocoa powder, plum juice

Caffeic acid: black chokeberry, dried spearmint, ceylon cinnamon, star anise

Epigallocetchin 3- O-gallate: green tea, black tea, pecan nut, hazelnut

Genistein: fermented tofu, soy meat and flour

Kaempferol: capers, cumin, cloves, caraway

Resveratrol: red wine (muscadine grape). lingonberry, european cranberry, redcurrant

Quercetin: Mexican oregano, black elderberry, capers, cloves, dark chocolate, raw red onion, raw bilberry

Polyphenol food benefits

Accordingly, the Japanese diet in 1975 contained many polyphenol-rich foods including fermented tofu, green tea, curry, and turmeric powder. These natural compounds are considered antioxidants and may delay cellular aging.

Best anti aging supplements

Curcumin Polyphenol Benefits

Curcumin is found in tumeric and curry powder.

Curcumin is the yellow pigment of the tumeric plant. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Treatment with curcumin in animals increased their lifespan. One major obstacle is its administration since it has poor oral bioavailability. New strategies such as curcumin-loaded micelles may improve delivery of curcumin.

Here are a few good sources of high-quality curcumin

  1. BioSchwartz Turmeric Curcumin with Bioperine 1500mg
  2. NatureWise Organic Curcumin Turmeric 2250mg
  3. Smarternutrition 95% Tetra-Hydro Curcuminoids

Quercetin Polyphenol Food Benefits

Quercetin is a polyphenol that has antiaging and antioxidant benefits.

Quercetin is an antioxidant that has been extensively documented in research studies. Quercetin exerts anti-aging effects on aged human fibroblasts (cells in connective tissue) by enhancing oxidative stress resistance. Researchers found that quercetin extended life expectancy in C. elegans (a nematode). Quercetin is highest in black elderberry and Mexican oregano.

Here are highly rated black elderberry sources

  1. Sambucol Black Elderberry 7.8 Fluid Ounce Bottle
  2. Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Vegan Powder Capsules
  3. Nature’s Way Sambucus Elderberry Gluten Free Gummies

Epigallocatechin Gallate Polyphenol Food Benefits

Green tea contains high amounts of polyphenols

Epigallocatechin gallate is found in green tea and black tea. Epigallocatechin gallate was found to inhibit oxidation-induced aging in human dermal fibroblasts (collagen producing cells). Green tea or black tea?Green tea contains much more polyphenols than black tea. Green tea contains 27mg/100mL and black tea contains 9 mg/100mL of epigallocatechin gallate.

Here are naturally sourced green tea for polyphenol benefits

  1. Nobi Nutrition Green Tea Formula EGCG Extract Pills
  2. Zenwise Green Tea Extract EGCG & Vitamin C Decaffeinated Pills
  3. Yogi Green Tea Super Antioxidant 96 Tea Bags


Polyphenol Foods – A Healthy Aging Diet

Fascinatingly as this may be, there are no long-term studies currently available for mega-dose polyphenol-rich food diets. Nutrigerontology is the study of examing the impact of food, micronutrient ratios, nutrients and dietary habits on antiaging and successful longevity. Will these anti-aging foods rich in polyphenols be the secret to a longer healthier life? Therapeutic strategies such as changes in dietary habit may eventually be applied to extend human lifespan. Although there may not be one singular secret to reverse aging, epidemiological and experimental data shows that the central role in healthy aging combines dietary habits, exercise, and genetic make-up.

Can you take supplements to age more gracefully? Learn more about anti-aging supplements here.


  1. Bacalini et al., 2014. Bacalini M.G., Friso S., Olivieri F., Pirazzini C., Giuliani C., Capri M., Santoro A., Franceschi C., and Garagnani P.: Present and future of anti-ageing epigenetic diets. Mech. Ageing Dev. 2014; 136–137:101-115
  2. Gurau, F. et al. Anti-senescence compounds: A potential nutraceutical approach to health aging. Ageing Research Reviews. 2018; 46: 14-31
  3. Kazushi, Y., et al. The Japanese diet from 1975 delays senescence and prolongs life span in SAMP8 mice. Nutrition. 2016; 32(10): 122-128
  4. McCurry, J. Japan will be model for future super-ageing societies. Lancet. 2015; 386(10003): 1523-1523
  5. Pitofsky, Marina. “What Countries Have the Longest Life Expectancies?” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 5 Aug. 2018, www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/07/27/life-expectancies-2018-japan-switzerland-spain/848675002/.

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