By Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, LDN
Food is Medicine! And some foods can provide benefits that will aid in healthy aging. Antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber support the body in many ways including optimizing longevity and wellness. Check out these 5 foods that can make you look and feel more vibrant today as FoodTrients discusses why you should incorporate them into your diet.
All citrus contains antioxidants, fiber and anti-aging compounds like vitamin C but pink grapefruit has some special benefits to offer. Antioxidant spermidine has shown positive results in some animal studies for longevity and in support of healthy cells. A more familiar antioxidant in pink grapefruit is lycope (you may have heard of this heart-healthy antioxidant in tomato products!). Lycopene is associated with anti-cancer benefits; another key to healthy aging. You will find vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin A and copper in high levels in pink grapefruit. Lots of fiber combined with other nutrients helps support cardiovascular health which should be a focus for everyone given heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most ethnicities in the United States.
You have probably heard that avocados are full of healthy fats and that is correct! Monounsaturated fat including heart-healthy oleic acid and phytosterols has been shown to support cardiovascular health including a better lipid profile. The presence of fat in avocados helps the body absorb certain nutrients much more efficiently so this powerhouse food has it all in one package. Vitamins and minerals like pantothenic acid, potassium and folate as well as a high level of fiber found in avocados are associated with heart and cellular benefits. Rich in antioxidants, particularly the dark green part closest to the inside of the skin, eating avocado aids in healthy aging. Even the profile of folks who eat avocados in their diet is positive; a large NHANES study found that avocado consumers experienced significantly higher intakes of vegetables, fruit, had a better diet quality in general, and got more fiber and nutrients including vitamins E, K, magnesium and potassium in their overall diets.
The dark red, blue and purple hues of berries are an indicator that they have something great to offer. Packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber, berries have long been associated with health. As research keeps pouring out about the many benefits of berries, there is particular interest in how they can provide motor and cognitive support as we age. Studies suggest that the antioxidants in berries, the polyphenols, may decrease stress signaling and increase signals involved in learning and memory. Studies point to the anti-aging benefits that antioxidants provide by scavenging harmful free radicals and potentially extending lifespans of organisms that have been observed. With a large body of research linking berries to brain benefits, it makes sense to include them in the diet daily, both as a delicious treat and for their potential cognitive effects.
Call them sea veggies, seaweed or kelp, plants that grow underwater have some serious anti-aging benefits in the form of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Nutrients that are rare elsewhere, such as iodine and vanadium, abound uniquely in sea vegetables and can help support normal thyroid function and regulate metabolism including blood sugar. An antioxidant special to sea vegetable called fucoidans has shown potential for anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-viral capacity. Full of vitamin C, iron, B vitamins and carotenoids, learning to include sea vegetables into your diet is something you should start today.
Beans are an anti-aging powerhouse full of fiber, protein and antioxidants. The vibrant color in black and kidney beans signals the fact that they are full of healthy compounds such as anthocyanin flavonoids, kaemferol and quercetin. Beans offer tons of molybdenum and folate for optimal cellular health. Consuming beans has been linked to a reduction in diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Soybeans offer a special anti-aging benefit because they are rich in isoflavones which have proven beneficial for bone strength, heart health, and improving memory and learning skills. Most people enjoy eating beans but they state that they forget about them. Dig up some of your favorite bean recipes today and aim to include them in your diet throughout the week for optimal health.
Reduce inflammatory process in cells, tissues, and blood vessels, helping to slow aging and reduce risk of long-term disease.
Prevents and repairs oxidative damage to cells caused by free radicals.
Support the body’s resistance to infection and strengthen immune vigilance and response.
Improves mood, memory, and focus.
Reduces risk factors for common degenerative and age-related diseases.