You can fight aging because the fountain of youth may already be in your fridge? A healthy diet can do more than simply keep your weight in check — the right foods can actually save your skin, protect your ticker, improve your memory, and more. “There’s no doubt that eating healthy can have a tremendous impact on how we age,” says Dr. Timothy S. Harlan, M.D., better known as the nutritional expert. Even better, you won’t need to choke down a single bland morsel to reap the rewards. Just add these six anti-aging foods to savor to your grocery list, and in turn, add years to your life.
Stock up because: They’ll preserve your oomph. Researchers in Italy found that a lack of vitamin E in adults over age 65 led to a noticeable decline in physical function over a few years, but foods rich in this energizing nutrient can help you stay on the move. Hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, and peanut butter are all good sources of vitamin E, but dry roasted almonds pack the most punch — one ounce provides 40 percent of your recommended daily intake.
Bonus benefit: Vitamin E can also protect against the effects of free radicals, a type of molecule linked to cell damage, heart disease, and cancer.
Stock up because: It can boost your brainpower. Curcumin, the chemical that makes turmeric yellow, may be a valuable tool in warding off Alzheimer’s disease. According to a UCLA study, curcumin may help the immune system get rid of amyloid beta, a protein that forms plaque in the brain. Turmeric can be found in most curry powders and pastes, so spice up your next meal with a coconut curry or vindaloo dish. After all, scientists have noted that the Alzheimer’s rate in India is only one percent. Not feeling so exotic? Many yellow mustards also contain turmeric, so check the ingredients list on the label.
Bonus benefit: Researchers at Johns Hopkins linked a daily dose of curcumin to a 60 percent drop in the rate of colon polyps.
Stock up because: This fatty fish can keep your heart healthy. Salmon is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which cut your risk of a fatal heart attack by one-third. They can also lower your triglyceride level and blood pressure, which will make your doc happy; the American Heart Association recommends eating two servings a week. “Step away from the burger and eat more fish,” Dr. Harlan advises. “We simply don’t eat enough.” If you’re a vegetarian, or just not a fan of our finned friends, walnuts are another solid source of omega-3.
Bonus benefit: Salmon provides much-needed vitamin D, which helps your body absorb bone-boosting calcium. Exposure to sunlight can also stimulates vitamin D production in your body, but your risk of skin cancer increases with age, so salmon offers a much safer source.
- OLIVE OIL
Stock up because: It can lower your cholesterol. Not all fat is the enemy, and two tablespoons of olive oil each day can actually reduce your risk of heart disease. That’s because olive oil contains monounsaturated fats, which help lower your level of low-density lipoprotein (LPL), better known as “bad” cholesterol. “Olive oil is the granddaddy of ‘healthy’ fats and well-established as being really good for you,” Dr. Harlan says.
Bonus benefit: Extra-virgin olive oil, the least processed variety, contains the highest levels of polyphenols; these powerful antioxidants can maintain the elasticity of your skin, helping you look as young as you feel.
Stock up because: They could be a safeguard against certain types of cancer. Berries are an excellent source of antioxidants, and studies have hinted that anthocyanins — the chemicals that give berries their deep hues — may actually be able to slow the growth of certain cancers.
Bonus benefit: Strawberries are one of the best sources of vitamin C, with a half-cup serving providing 80 percent of your daily dose. Vitamin C boosts your immune system, maintains connective tissues, and helps your body absorb iron; it’s also necessary for the production of collagen, and too little can lead to brittle hair or dry skin.
Stock up because: Do you really need a reason? OK, then: Chocolate is loaded with flavanols, antioxidants that can improve blood flow and prevent clots. (The darker the chocolate, the more flavanols it likely contains; look for varieties with 70 percent cocoa or higher.) And while saturated fat is typically frowned upon, the type found in cocoa butter can actually help to lower your cholesterol level. Just remember that this doesn’t give you free reign over the candy aisle; chocolate is still high in calories, and excessive amounts can aggravate migraines, hypoglycemia, or kidney stones. “Having a Milky Way bar just won’t do,” Dr. Harlan says. “Good, pure, dark chocolate in small amounts is the key.”
Bonus benefit: Chocolate is an instant mood-booster, and not just because it’s so yummy. Chocolate acts as a natural antidepressant by raising endorphin levels in your brain, and the small amount of caffeine provides a quick jolt of energy if you’re feeling sluggish.
Yes, we can fight aging if we do all of the above.
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