People can indulge in beer, wine, and chocolate and still live a long life.
Antioxidants in the treats help to reduce inflammation that is linked to deadly diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.
When eaten alongside plenty of fruit and vegetables, people who indulge in beer, wine and chocolate are up to a fifth less likely to die prematurely than those who consume lots of red meat, fizzy drinks, and processed food.
Lead author Professor Joanna Kaluza, from Warsaw University, said: ‘It is known that fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, red wine, beer, and chocolate are rich in antioxidants.
‘Adherence to a diet with high anti-inflammatory potential may reduce mortality.’
The researchers analyzed 68,273 adults who were aged between 45 and 83.
The participants completed a questionnaire that asked how often they ate 11 anti-inflammatory foods, such as olive oil and nuts, as well as five inflammatory foods, like chips, pies, and biscuits.
Based on this, the participants were given a score of zero to 16, with the highest scores being the healthiest.
Some 16,088 of the participants died during the 16-year study. Of which, 5,980 passed away due to heart disease and 5,252 as a result of cancer, with the remainder being due to other causes.
Results, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, suggest those who ate the most anti-inflammatory foods were overall 18 percent less likely to die over the 16 years than the participants who consumed the fewest.
Specifically, an anti-inflammatory diet reduced their risk of dying from heart disease by 20 percent and cancer by 13 percent.
Interestingly, smokers benefited the most and were a third less likely to pass away during the study’s duration than smokers who ate less healthily.
Professor Kaluza said: ‘The strongest inverse associations between the highest and lowest [consumers] of an anti-inflammatory diet and risk of mortality were observed in current smokers: 31 percent, 36 percent, and 22 percent lower risks of all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality, respectively.
‘Adherence to a diet with high anti-inflammatory potential may reduce all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer mortality and prolong survival time, especially amongst current and former smokers.’
Although this eating plan benefits smokers, non-smokers who followed the anti-inflammatory diet lived on average 4.6 years longer than smokers who did not.
Professor Kaluza also stressed that while the study’s participants did benefit from drinking alcohol, their consumption was ‘relatively low to moderate’.
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