WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- A new study involving fruit flies reveals the life-prolonging properties of prunetin, a plant-derived compound belonging to a group of flavonoids called isoflavones. Prunetin is found in a number of fruits and vegetables, including soy, pea shoots, lima beans and prunes.
Male fruit flies that enjoyed a prunetin-rich diet enjoyed longer, healthier lives with improved glucose levels compared to their prunetin-free peers. The benefits of prunetin weren't apparent in female flies.
To measure their fitness levels, researchers forced the fruit flies to climb up a transparent tube and recorded the distance they covered in a set amount of time. Scientists tallied the number of dead flies each day to determine average lifespan.
"Our study provides novel insights into plant bioactive research and suggests a potential to combat aging comparatively simple by the intake of a plant bioactive," Anika E. Wagner, a researcher at the Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, in Kiel, Germany, explained in a press release.
Wagner led the latest research into prunetin and fruit flies as part of her work with the Institute of Human Nutrition and Food Science.
"Further studies in mammalian species and humans are needed to validate initial data which were generated in the model organism Drosophila melanogaster," Wagner added.
The new research was published in The FASEB Journal.
"This research shows that the connection between diet and health is important for all living animals, no matter how complex or how simple they are," said Thoru Pederson, the journal's editor in chief. "There is a lot of work that must be done before we would know if this compound will be useful to humans, but it certainly doesn't hurt to add lima beans to more men's diets."
Previous studies have detailed prunetin's anti-inflammatory properties.