In addition to polyphenols, there are important nutrients that act as cofactors to DNA methylation that are important to consume. Some of these include choline, which is found predominantly in eggs (aim for 5-10 eggs a week if tolerated) folate, found in dark leafy greens, avocado, cruciferous veggies, B12-rich foods like grass-fed steak, poultry, and chicken, and foods rich in Vitamin B6 like fish, chickpeas, bananas, and squash.
Beans are another essential food in improving longevity. If we take a look at the blue zones, which are the regions of the world thought to have a high number of people who live longer than average, we see some common themes. These individuals eat lots of fruit and vegetables, they prioritize anti-inflammatory fats like omega 3’s from fatty fish and omega 9’s from olive oil, and they eat a lot of beans – about ½ cup daily. Beans are an essential part of the diet for the blue zones, and one study conducted found that eating 20 grams of beans daily reduced a person’s risk of dying any given year by 6%!
There are so many reasons why beans are so nutritious including their micronutrient profile. Beans contain a ton of vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, zinc, copper, and many b-vitamins. They are high in fiber, including soluble fiber which is so important for digestion, but also blood sugar regulation, and heart health. The prebiotic fiber in beans can truly shape the microbiome, and a healthy gut microbiome (link to part 2) is another important ingredient for a long and healthy life. While it’s common to fear legumes in many health circles, it’s time to update our perspective on these powerful sources of plant protein for their instructive nature on our cellular health, cardiometabolic health and clearly longevity too.