Can you eat your way to a longer life?
Luck and genetics (variables out of one’s control) play big roles in longevity. But a diet rich in fruits and vegetables – high in nutrients and low in calories – is your best bet for a long life. Get more bang per bite by incorporating these healthy foods and ingredients into your daily diet.
Avocado: Rich in omega-3 oils and unsaturated fats, avocados prevent heart disease (the largest killer in the United States) by helping lower your LDL “bad” cholesterol, while raising your HDL “good” cholesterol. Avocadoes also help your body absorb heart-healthy vitamins like beta-carotene and lycopene. And they’re also known to be a great source of vitamin E and C.
Beans: Full of fiber and protein, beans and legumes increase levels of the fatty acid butyrate, which can protect against cancer growth.
Berries: These bite-sized fruits are full of antioxidants, known to boost immunity and stave off life-threatening disease. They’ll help you age gracefully, too. According to Health.com, berries, specifically strawberries, have more anti-aging vitamin C per serving than oranges or grapefruit!
Broccoli: This powerhouse plant is jam-packed with vitamins A, C, E, and K, all of which add luminosity to the skin and help repair damaged tissue. Broccoli is also an anti-carcinogen, stimulating the body to produce its own cancer-fighting substances, and it’s proven to help prevent cataracts, heart disease, arthritis, ulcers, and viruses.
Chocolate: High blood pressure and heart disease are exceedingly rare among residents of the San Blas islands, and it’s because they eat lots of chocolate. According to this article, components in dark chocolate called polyphenols lower blood pressure and improve the flexibility of blood vessels.
Garlic: Studies have found that phytochemicals in garlic can halt the formation of carcinogenic chemicals in the body, and that women who eat more garlic have a lower risk of certain colon cancers.
Olive oil: As delicious as it is healthy, this monounsaturated “good fat” is well known for its heart-health/longevity benefits. Studies also show that olive oil may also be linked to brain health and cancer prevention.
Spinach: This leafy green contains folate, which helps repair and maintain DNA. The folate in spinach basically boosts a cell’s ability to renew itself. And get this – cooking spinach actually increases its health benefits. The superfood nourishes eyes, builds bones and is great for digestion.
Tomatoes: Although they’re often confused for vegetables, tomatoes are a fruit that contains lycopene – which gives them their bright, red pigment, and which also stimulates skin circulation and eliminates skin-aging free radicals caused by UV rays. Eating tomatoes aids in the protection against high blood pressure, high cholesterol, strokes and heart disease. Like spinach, eating tomatoes cooked, in pasta sauce, tomato soup or chutney increases the amount of carcinogen-fighting carotenoids your body is able to absorb.
So the next time you reach for a snack, ask yourself: “Will this help me live a longer, healthier life?”