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.
Here are some science-based foods that can increase longevity and keep you looking (and feeling) youthful.
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 . 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 .
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 . To reap these health benefits, enjoy nuts raw or roasted, blended into nut butter, or sprinkled on cereal for a crunchy, nutritious snack.
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 .
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 .
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 .
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 . High consumption of dietary vitamin C is associated with better skin appearance and decreased skin wrinkling [15, 16].
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 . Several observational studies have demonstrated an inverse relationship between cruciferous vegetable consumption and cardiovascular disease . 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% .
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.
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 . 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 . 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.
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 . 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].
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) . 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 .
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.