While aging is inevitable, there’s a lot you can do to help promote a longer, healthier life. In fact, research has shown that how you age is less genetic and more in your control than you think, he says. Anant Vinjamoori, MD, chief medical officer of the modern age. This includes taking stock of your existing eating habits and opting for more foods for a longer life. When it comes to longevity, the first things you’ll want to consider are the foods you tend to consume.
“The key is to avoid processed foods, which are often high in unhealthy fat, sugar and sodium and can contribute to various health problems,” says Dr. Vinjamoori Eat this, not that! In fact, diet plays a huge role in how we age and is a crucial lifestyle factor that ensures you live a healthier life for longer. “A diet rich in a variety of plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds) is associated with a longer, healthier lifespan. These foods provide an abundance of phytochemicals and flavonoids , compounds that exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties,” says Dr. Vinjamoori.
And while there’s no single food that can magically extend your life, there are many foods you can eat in combination that can help you reduce your risk of disease and support you in your golden years. For example, take a look at the dietary patterns observed in the world’s “blue zones” — areas where people live extraordinarily long and healthy lives. Common to all of these areas is a high intake of plant-based foods and a low intake of meat and processed foods, says Dr. Vinjamoori.
Here are seven foods that can help you live longer, and for an insight into healthy eating, be sure to check out 7 Eating Habits to Steal from the World’s Longest Living People.
Whether it’s almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, or a crunchy combination of all, you’ll want to snack on a handful of nuts more often. The landmark PREDIMED study, a large, long-term nutritional intervention study, observed a significant reduction in the risk of major cardiovascular events among those following a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts compared with a reduced-fat diet. It was observed that the group that ate nuts had a 39% lower risk of mortality.
“Nuts are high in unsaturated fat (a healthy form of fat), fiber, antioxidants, and certain vitamins and minerals that collectively promote heart health, help control weight, and possibly aid in longevity,” says Dr. Vinjamoori.
Turmeric, a staple ingredient in Indian foods such as dal, sambar and rasam, contains curcumin, a bioactive compound with potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, according to Dr. Vinjamoori.
Chronic inflammation is a significant factor in many aging-related diseases, and curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects may help mitigate that, he says, pointing to a 2021 study in Drug design, development and therapy. Additionally, curcumin is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to a 2022 review in Cells.
Pro tip: Always combine turmeric with black pepper, as pepper helps increase the bioavailability of curcumin.
Antioxidant-rich olive oil, which is high in healthy fats, is a staple in the Mediterranean diet for good reason. A 2022 study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology observed that people who consumed more than a tablespoon of olive oil per day had a 19 percent lower risk of death (from any cause) than those who rarely or never consumed olive oil. Specifically, people who liked olive oil had a 29% lower risk of dying from neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s), a 19% lower risk of heart disease, and a 17% lower risk of die of cancer.
Next time you need some afternoon cheer, brew a pot of green tea.
“Green tea is rich in quercetin, a plant flavonoid that exhibits antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties,” explains Dr. Vinjamoori.
A 2022 study in Molecules suggests that quercetin may kill senescent aging cells cells that have stopped dividing, which could help delay the aging process.
According to Dr. Vinjamoori, quercetin is thought to activate the SIRT1 gene, a crucial player in the longevity and benefits of calorie restriction, by improving the body’s ability to repair DNA and potentially slowing the aging process.
Onions are the richest source of quercetin, the antioxidant that has a protective function against aging, according to the same 2022 Molecules study. And a 2021 randomized clinical trial in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition observed that eating quercetin-rich onions helped improve cognitive function. Luckily, there are so many ways to eat onions: try caramelizing them with a little extra virgin olive oil and adding them to an omelet, or slicing them up and tossing them into a hearty salad to make them extra crunchy.
Avoiding complex carbohydrates is not the key to a longer life. In fact, it was observed that people who ate about 2.4 ounces of whole grains (which is equivalent to about 1.5 slices of whole grain bread) per day had a lower risk of premature death than the group who ate less or no whole grains. , according to a 2016 Circulation study. If you’re not big on bread, you can include other nutrient-dense whole grains in your diet, such as wild rice, oatmeal, spelt, and low-sugar whole grains.
Berries are rich in a specific type of antioxidant called flavonoids, which has been linked to longer life. A British Journal of Nutrition The study examined data from the Nurses Health Study, one of the largest surveys of risk factors for major chronic diseases in women that has followed more than 93,000 women over decades. Researchers have found a close link between consuming flavonoid-rich foods, particularly blueberries and strawberries, as well as red wine, tea and peppers, and a lower risk of all-cause mortality.
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