HomeArticlesOver 40? These foods might help you live longer according to science.

Over 40? These foods might help you live longer according to science.

Looking for the secret to longevity? Incorporating these superfoods into your diet can help you live a long, healthy life, especially if you’re over 40. Here are the top foods that might help you live longer (according to science).

Sarah Achleithner, health and wellness writer
5 mins
Aging. It’s happening to all of us yet few of us are truly comfortable with getting older. While no single food will add years to your life, eating a balanced, nutrient-dense diet filled with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, can help you stay on top of your health, and look and feel your best year after year. 
CTA 3: Fill your nutrient gaps
Here are some science-based foods that can increase longevity and keep you looking (and feeling) youthful.
assortment of nuts in a bowl

Nuts

Whether you enjoy cashews, walnuts, or almonds, these nutrient-dense morsels are packed with healthy fats, protein, and fiber, which promote heart health, satiety, and laxation among other things. Eating nuts regularly has been shown to reduce risk of obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes - which are all leading causes of death in adults in the United States [1]. In addition, recent evidence has shown that consuming an additional 5 g of nuts/day is associated with 6% and 25% lower risks of pancreatic and colon cancers, respectively, and a 4% lower risk of overall cancer mortality [14].
Different nuts offer different benefits so we recommend mixing things up. For example, almonds have been shown to improve glycemic control and insulin resistance, raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and support weight loss [1, 8]. Walnuts provide similar benefits and contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight inflammation, support cognition and promote heart health [1]. To reap these health benefits, enjoy nuts raw or roasted, blended into nut butter, or sprinkled on cereal for a crunchy, nutritious snack. 
assorted berries in a white bowl

Berries

When it comes to berries, don’t be shy about eating the rainbow! Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cranberries are all low in calories and rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other bioactive compounds that fight inflammation [2,3]. Emerging evidence suggests that the bioactive compounds in berries help protect against chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and other disorders [17]. 
More specifically, blueberries are beneficial for bone and heart health, contain high amounts of vitamin C and anthocyanins, and have one of the highest antioxidant capacities of all fruits [2,3]. Additionally, consuming blueberries seems to have a positive impact on blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, oxidative stress, and inflammatory markers [17]. 
Strawberries have even more vitamin C than blueberries and help promote healthy skin, hair, and nails [2,3]. Studies have shown a correlation between increased strawberry consumption and decreased systolic blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease [17]. 
Berries are also “berry” good for aging skin. Berries are rich in vitamin C which regulates collagen development and helps skin remain firm. Conversely, reduced collagen production can result in saggy skin and increased wrinkles [9]. High consumption of dietary vitamin C is associated with better skin appearance and decreased skin wrinkling [15, 16].
hands holding a bunch of kale

Cruciferous vegetables

Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, and cabbage are all members of the cruciferous vegetable family, a class of veggies that may help protect against various chronic diseases. 
Sulforaphane is present in broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower and has been shown to promote heart health and has antioxidant and antitumor properties [4]. Several observational studies have demonstrated an inverse relationship between cruciferous vegetable consumption and cardiovascular disease [18]. In addition, high intakes of cruciferous vegetables may help reduce your risk of deadly cancers (such as colorectal and gastric) by as much as 8-19% [5].
Go ahead and get cooking with cruciferous veggies to promote longevity! From soups and salads to stir-fries and smoothies, there are dozens of tasty options to include on your menu.
Bowl of oatmeal topped with dried figs, on a wooden table

Whole grains

If you want to improve your lifespan, consider adding more whole grains to your diet! Studies have found a correlation between fiber consumption and all-cause mortality, as a high fiber diet is associated with lower concentrations of serum inflammatory biomarkers [18]. Fiber also helps reduce cholesterol levels, as it binds to cholesterol particles and prevents them from entering the bloodstream.
For heart health benefits, aim to eat a total of 30-40 g of fiber-rich foods per day, 5-10 g of which should come from soluble fiber [11]. Soluble fiber (such as oats, beans, and barley) can help reduce your risk of heart disease by absorbing cholesterol in the GI tract and lowering total and LDL cholesterol levels by 5-10% [12, 13]. 
Learn more about how to reduce your LDL cholesterol levels without medication here.
avocado sliced in half on a cutting board

Avocados

Avocados are packed with fiber, monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamins K and E, potassium, and magnesium, all of which support overall health and wellbeing. Avocados are especially beneficial in supporting cardiovascular health, the leading cause of death in the US. 
Studies have shown that eating avocados can help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, improve glycemic control, and protect against DNA damage due to their high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants [6]. Additionally, avocados also may help manage weight, support bone, eye, and skin health, boost HDL cholesterol, reduce risk of metabolic syndrome, and protect against cancer, making them a delicious option to increase longevity and promote youthfulness [6, 19]. 
lentils, chickpeas, and other beans and legumes separated into bowls

Beans

Beans and other legumes are nutrient powerhouses that are rich in soluble fiber and may help protect against colon cancer, diabetes, and heart disease (three of the leading killers worldwide) [20]. Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, black beans, and other legumes have cardioprotective effects by lowering cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure; anti-diabetes effects by increasing insulin sensitivity and lowering hemoglobin A1c; and positive effects on gut health by increasing microbiome diversity and reducing inflammation [7]. 

Summary

As you age, it’s important to pay closer attention to nutrients that promote a long, healthful life. Eating a balanced, nutrient-dense diet filled with nuts, berries, cruciferous vegetables, whole grains, beans, and avocados, can help you offset your risk of chronic disease, manage weight, boost skin health, and prevent nutrient deficiencies, at age 40 and beyond.
Disclaimer: The text, images, videos, and other media on this page are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to treat, diagnose, or replace personalized medical care.

Key Takeaways

  • While there is not yet a fountain of youth, eating a balanced, nutrient-dense diet filled with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants is one of the best ways to live a longer, healthier life.
  • Eating nuts regularly has been shown to reduce the risk of multiple chronic diseases and negative health outcomes, including obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes [1].
  • Berries are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other bioactive compounds that promote longevity, reduced inflammation, and improved collagen levels [2, 9].
  • High intakes of cruciferous vegetables can reduce the risk of deadly cancers (such as colorectal and gastric) by 8-19% [5].
  • Avocados can help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, improve glycemic control, and protect against DNA damage due to their high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants [6]. 
  • Beans and other legumes are nutrient powerhouses that are rich in soluble fiber, protecting you against colon cancer, diabetes, and heart disease (three of the leading killers worldwide) [20].

References

  1. de Souza, R., Schincaglia, R. M., Pimentel, G. D., & Mota, J. F. (2017). Nuts and Human Health Outcomes: A Systematic Review. Nutrients9(12), 1311. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9121311
  2. Skrovankova, S., Sumczynski, D., Mlcek, J., Jurikova, T., & Sochor, J. (2015). Bioactive Compounds and Antioxidant Activity in Different Types of Berries. International journal of molecular sciences16(10), 24673–24706. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms161024673 
  3. Miller, K., Feucht, W., & Schmid, M. (2019). Bioactive Compounds of Strawberry and Blueberry and Their Potential Health Effects Based on Human Intervention Studies: A Brief Overview. Nutrients11(7), 1510. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11071510 
  4. Ferreira, P., Rodrigues, L., de Alencar Carnib, L. P., de Lima Sousa, P. V., Nolasco Lugo, L. M., Nunes, N., do Nascimento Silva, J., da Silva Araûjo, L., & de Macêdo Gonçalves Frota, K. (2018). Cruciferous Vegetables as Antioxidative, Chemopreventive and Antineoplasic Functional Foods: Preclinical and Clinical Evidences of Sulforaphane Against Prostate Cancers. Current pharmaceutical design24(40), 4779–4793. https://doi.org/10.2174/1381612825666190116124233 
  5. Johnson I. T. (2018). Cruciferous Vegetables and Risk of Cancers of the Gastrointestinal Tract. Molecular nutrition & food research62(18), e1701000. https://doi.org/10.1002/mnfr.201701000 
  6. Dreher, M. L., & Davenport, A. J. (2013). Hass avocado composition and potential health effects. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition53(7), 738–750. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2011.556759 
  7. Mullins, A. P., & Arjmandi, B. H. (2021). Health Benefits of Plant-Based Nutrition: Focus on Beans in Cardiometabolic Diseases. Nutrients13(2), 519. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13020519 
  8. Pahlavani, N., Rostami, D., Ebrahimi, F., & Azizi-Soleiman, F. (2019, December 27). Nuts effects in chronic disease and relationship between walnuts and satiety: Review on the available evidence. Obesity Medicine. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2451847619300934 
  9. Ganceviciene, R., Liakou, A. I., Theodoridis, A., Makrantonaki, E., & Zouboulis, C. C. (2012). Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermato-endocrinology4(3), 308–319. https://doi.org/10.4161/derm.22804 
  10. Abbaspour, N., Hurrell, R., & Kelishadi, R. (2014). Review on iron and its importance for human health. Journal of research in medical sciences : the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences19(2), 164–174. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3999603/ 
  11. Adding Soluble Fiber to Lower Your Cholesterol. National Lipid Association. (n.d.). https://www.lipid.org/sites/default/files/adding_soluble_fiber_final_0.pdf 
  12. Surampudi, P., Enkhmaa, B., Anuurad, E., & Berglund, L. (2016). Lipid Lowering with Soluble Dietary Fiber. Current atherosclerosis reports18(12), 75. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11883-016-0624-z 
  13. Pallazola, V. A., Davis, D. M., Whelton, S. P., Cardoso, R., Latina, J. M., Michos, E. D., Sarkar, S., Blumenthal, R. S., Arnett, D. K., Stone, N. J., & Welty, F. K. (2019). A Clinician's Guide to Healthy Eating for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention. Mayo Clinic proceedings. Innovations, quality & outcomes3(3), 251–267. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocpiqo.2019.05.001 
  14. Naghshi, S., Sadeghian, M., Nasiri, M., Mobarak, S., Asadi, M., & Sadeghi, O. (2021). Association of Total Nut, Tree Nut, Peanut, and Peanut Butter Consumption with Cancer Incidence and Mortality: A Comprehensive Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 12(3), 793–808. https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmaa152 
  15. Cosgrove, M. C., Franco, O. H., Granger, S. P., Murray, P. G., & Mayes, A. E. (2007). Dietary nutrient intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 86(4), 1225–1231. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/86.4.1225 
  16. Purba, M. B., Kouris-Blazos, A., Wattanapenpaiboon, N., Lukito, W., Rothenberg, E. M., Steen, B. C., & Wahlqvist, M. L. (2001). Skin wrinkling: can food make a difference?. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 20(1), 71–80. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2001.10719017 
  17. Miller, K., Feucht, W., & Schmid, M. (2019). Bioactive Compounds of Strawberry and Blueberry and Their Potential Health Effects Based on Human Intervention Studies: A Brief Overview. Nutrients, 11(7), 1510. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11071510 
  18. Veronese, N., Solmi, M., Caruso, M. G., Giannelli, G., Osella, A. R., Evangelou, E., Maggi, S., Fontana, L., Stubbs, B., & Tzoulaki, I. (2018, March 16). Dietary fiber and health outcomes: An umbrella review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. OUP Academic. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/107/3/436/4939351
  19. Fulgoni, V. L., 3rd, Dreher, M., & Davenport, A. J. (2013). Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2008. Nutrition journal, 12, 1. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-12-1 
  20. Fulgoni, V. L., 3rd, Dreher, M., & Davenport, A. J. (2013). Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2008. Nutrition journal, 12, 1. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-12-1