- KoOlyphoto / Shutterstock
- A new study suggests adding zinc to a diet including chocolate, coffee, and tea could help you live longer.
- It may reduce damage caused by oxidation.
- This is because the zinc combines with a molecule found in these foods to mimic an enzyme that breaks down superoxide.
- Superoxide damages proteins, lipids, and DNA, and contributes to ageing.
Research has consistently shown that many vitamin supplements may essentially be useless. But one vitamin that is proven to be good for us is zinc, which is hard to get enough of in our daily diet.
According to a new study, published in the journal Nature Chemistry, adding zinc to a diet rich in a component found in wine, coffee, tea, and chocolate, could increase life expectancy.
Researchers from the University of Erlangen in Nuremberg and Auburn University in Alabama found that a substance found in polyphenols – which are responsible for smell and taste – is activated by zinc, and produces a natural protective agent against superoxide.
Superoxide is produced by the body’s cells but damages our proteins and DNA. It’s thought to play a role in the ageing process, as well as being responsible for some cancers and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Antioxidant polyphenols are found in chocolate, wine, coffee, and tea, and researchers combined them in a lab with zinc to see what happened.
The result was a “metal complex” that imitates an enzyme in the body that breaks down superoxides, so they are metabolised away and oxidative damage is avoided.
This is the first time the effects of this enzyme have been replicated, the researchers said.
“It is certainly possible that wine, coffee, tea or, chocolate may well be available in future with added zinc,” said researcher Ivana Ivanovi-Burmazovi. “However, any alcohol content whatsoever would destroy the positive effects of this combination.”
Earlier this year, research found that eating three bars of chocolate a month could reduce the risk of heart disease. This could be because of the anti-inflammatory benefits of components of dark chocolate. Another study from this year found that an anti-inflammatory diet, including coffee, chocolate, and red wine, could reduce your chances of dying early.