You can live longer and live better by eating the right kinds of foods. We’ve put together our top list of superfoods to slow the aging process and help keep you healthy and fit at any age.
If you missed the first half of this list, check out Part 1 and Part 2 here.
Lentils, part of the legume family which also includes beans, are rich in protein, iron, folic acid, and important phytochemicals. They are also high in fiber, which helps lower the glycemic impact of carbohydrates on your blood sugar. In fact, lentils can help balance your blood sugar, especially if you buy dried lentils in bulk (they aren’t only cheaper, they have much less salt than the canned version).
Lentils also contain phytosterols, which help manage healthy blood fat and cholesterol levels, prebiotics, which feed good probiotics in the gut, and phytoestrogens, which some studies show can help control the negative effects of menopause and the male version, ‘andropause.’
Bottom line: The humble (and budget-friendly) lentil packs a lot of nutritional anti-aging value into a small package.
Pomegranate seeds or kernels are high in the antioxidant polyphenols ellagic acid and punic alagin, which combat damage from free radicals, preserving our body’s cells and the collagen in our skin. Studies have found that pomegranate inhibits accelerated skin aging from sun overexposure, with both cosmetic and anti-cancer benefits. The seeds are also an excellent source of fiber, folate, and vitamin C.
Bottom line: Good for your skin. Very good. Also delicious. Add pomegranate seeds to your salads for a great kick.
Orange ‘winter’ squashes and mallows—including acorn, butternut, banana, hubbard and spaghetti squashes, as well as pumpkins—are great sources of beta carotene. This phytonutrient is not only converted in the body to immune-supporting vitamin A, but is also an antioxidant that can block the development of cancer cells.
Bottom line: A pureed soup of orange vegetables is not only delicious, but may boost your immune system and protect against cancer.
Fatty fish are considered the gold standard in omega-3 sources. Their ‘long-chain’ forms docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and ecosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are famous for their anti-inflammatory, blood-fat-lowering, heart-protecting, and brain-and-mood-boosting properties considered so key to healthy aging.
A study of middle-aged American men found that those who ate 2-3 weekly servings of fish had an up to 40% lower mortality rate than those who did not. EPA and DHA are found largely in coldwater fish, including salmon, herring, tuna and sardines.
Bottom line: Research shows that eating the right kind of fish can help you live longer.
Not just for squirrels: nuts and seeds are rich in proteins that support lean muscle mass and help balance blood sugar levels. These proteins are particularly helpful for perimenopausal women, as metabolic functions shift.
Nuts and seeds are also excellent sources of unsaturated fats. Almonds, walnuts, and flax, chia, and hemp seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Unlike fish, they are also rich in antioxidants and vitamin E, which protect the vulnerable omega-3 against oxidation.
Nuts and seeds also contain additional vitamins and minerals that support healthy blood pressure and bone integrity. Selenium, a powerful mineral that aids in the production of the antioxidant glutathione, is particularly high in Brazil nuts. This mineral repairs cell damage and slows the skin’s aging process. Seeds also contain lignin phytoestrogens, which prevent collagen breakdown and boost skin health.
Eating nuts protects against oxidation and improves blood vessel function and blood sugar balance. Harvard researchers who followed over 100,000 people for decades found that those who ate nuts every day lived significantly longer.
Nuts and seeds are known to curb appetite, but are not linked to weight gain, due to an apparent increase the body’s metabolic (fat-burning) rate, regardless of the type of nut—making them a great snack no matter your age.
Bottom line: Break out the trail mix!
These 10 foods are just the tip of the iceberg. The more superfoods you can add to your diet, the more you can experience their health benefits.