If you want to live a long, fruitful life, the foods you put on your plate can have a big impact. It’s no secret that food plays an integral role in overall health, especially when it comes to aging. Certain foods contribute to cognitive decline, inflammation, and obesity, while others improve joint mobility, cognition, and immune function.
Following a generally clean diet and exercising regularly are two healthy lifestyle habits. There are, however, certain foods that have a profound impact on how you age. The largest populations of centenarians live in blue zones, and they have some of the healthiest diets. The concept of blue zones grew out of demographic work that identified certain regions of the world with the highest concentration of centenarians. The crazy thing is that these centenarians never set out to live to be 100. They don’t typically take vitamins or read nutrition labels; rather, they simply make excellent food choices, focusing on freshness and avoiding processed foods.
Everything comes back to what you put in the body, and there are particular foods in blue zones that play an important role in longevity. If you want to live a little longer, consider eliminating the unnecessary and unhealthy foods from your diet. Focus on clean eating, increase your intake of the following foods, and you may find that you extend your life!
There are many studies on berries because they have the potential to reduce cancer risk, lower inflammation, and improve heart health. Berries may also have a beneficial effect on the brain, displaying an ability to reduce the risk of cognitive decline. The Nurses Health Study, which included over 16,000 participants over the age of 70, monitored the intake blueberries and strawberries. The researchers noticed that the people who consumed these two berries experienced slower cognitive decline. Another study found that blueberry extract may improve memory.
There are many blue zones in the Mediterranean, specifically in Italy and Greece, where people consume tomatoes in large quantities. Tomatoes exhibit high antioxidant activity, with the primary antioxidant being lycopene. According to research, higher blood levels of lycopene have been associated with lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Additionally, high lycopene levels may elevate HDL (good) cholesterol, which contributes to improved heart health. Tomatoes are rich in water and vitamin C, both of which are necessary for optimal hydration and the appearance of healthy skin. Vitamin C also assists with immune function, which tends to decline with age.
Do you want to live to be 80 or older? Start eating old-fashioned or steel cut oats and you’ll be well on your way to a longer life. Oats are naturally rich in B-vitamins, iron, fiber, protein, and they may help balance blood sugar levels and improve gut health. One study monitored people who consumed high-fiber oats. The results indicated that the participants experienced lower LDL cholesterol levels and weight circumference. A 2016 meta-analysis had similar findings, linking the consumption of whole grains, like oats, with lower chance of early death.
From plant-based protein to fiber and antioxidants, beans pack a serious nutritional punch. In fact, beans and legumes are essential components of the Mediterranean diet. If you combine beans with rice, they unite to form a complete protein, offering all essential amino acids without the saturated fat content of meat. According data, eating more plant-based foods, especially plant proteins, reduces the risk of early death. Heavy animal protein can take a toll on the body, especially the digestive system. Beans may also help reduce the risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and help lower cholesterol levels and inflammatory markers.
If there is one fundamental food in the Mediterranean diet, it is olive oil. Exhibiting an abundance of heart-healthy, monounsaturated fats, olive oil may help reduce LDL cholesterol, which ultimately lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. A study from 2020 observed people who included more than half a tablespoon of olive oil in their daily diet. The results indicated that this consumption reduced the risk of coronary heart disease by 18%. Olive oil is also rich in polyphenols that function as antioxidants, which fight against inflammation and cell damage.
Dark Leafy Greens
Adding more dark leafy greens to your diet is never a bad decision. They are rich in beneficial nutrients that may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, according to one study. Another study monitored 2,800 participants over a 15-year period. The researchers noted a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration in those who regularly consumed nitrates from leafy greens. One meta-analysis of 13 studies found that people who regularly ate leafy greens experienced a 15.8% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. You don’t just have to crunch on kale all day for these benefits. Enjoy different greens like romaine lettuce, arugula, spinach, mustard greens, Swiss chard, collard greens, or bok choy.