Six superfoods the body needs to age gracefully
It’s no news that aging makes the body break down; physically and health wise, but aging well is a goal we all should try to achieve. At some point, certain activities that were once enjoyed become too intense, and some favorite foods might not agree with the body anymore. Luckily, there are all kinds of changes you can make to slow that aging process.
Eating a balanced diet is one of the best things you can do to extend your life and stay as healthy and vital as possible.
There are certain foods that are good for thne body at any age. These are all flavorful choices that are relatively cheap, easy to access and can as well be enjoyed.
As we approach middle age, the risk for problems like type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol goes up. Adding beans to your daily diet is a fantastic way to knock that risk back down. Just ¾ cup of beans or lentils each day reduces your bad cholesterol (LDL) by up to 5%. Beans can also improve blood sugar levels in people who already have diabetes.
There is an amazing range of beans and lentils, so you should be able to find a variety or two that you really like. One thing to remember is that if you choose canned beans, it’s best to give them a rinse before eating because canned foods are really high in sodium.
Heart disease risk is one measure of health that spikes dramatically once men hit 45 and women reach 55. Therefore, the more cholesterol-lowering foods you can build into your diet, the better. Oats are great for this due to a type of soluble fiber called beta glucan. Soluble fiber binds with cholesterol during digestion and allows it to pass out of your body, rather than stay behind in your arteries.
Aim for at least 3 grams of beta glucan each day to reduce both total and LDL cholesterol levels by 5-10%. It’s worth it – people who eat a lot of oats have been found to have a lower risk of early death than people who don’t. Oats are a very affordable staple, so there’s no excuse not to pick up the habit!
Good old apples are a fantastic dietary staple for lots of reasons. Apples lower the risk of diabetes by helping to regulate blood sugar levels. They contain an average of 5 grams of fiber, which can lower cholesterol. And apples also contain a substance called quercetin which is known to lower blood pressure.
They are also a reliable source of vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants. However, apples do appear on the Dirty Dozen list for pesticide residue, so organic is best if you can afford it.
A salty snack every now and again can be very hard to resist, but when it comes in the form of chips or crackers, you end up eating an insane amount of saturated fat and sodium. Try nuts instead. Studies have shown that eating an ounce of mixed nuts every day reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke by 28%.
It doesn’t have to be mixed nuts; any variety you like will do, including the much more affordable peanut. You can eat your nuts in a handful or chop and toast them as an excellent crunchy topping for salads, roasted vegetables, or casseroles.
- Leafy Greens
We’ve spoken a lot about foods that improve your cardiovascular and metabolic health, but what about your brain power? That’s where leafy greens come in. Recent research has determined that people who eat a lot of leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collards compare in cognitive ability to people 11 years younger who rarely eat these foods.
One caveat is that leafy greens do not mix terribly well with the blood thinner Coumadin, so speak to your doctor about the right portion size if you take this medication.
Since we’re talking about superfoods, let’s look at carrots. Here’s a vegetable that can benefit every part of your body, especially eyes, mouth, skin, and heart. Carrots lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, boost your immune system, support digestion, and lower the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The reason carrots are so good for you is their unique nutritional profile, which includes fiber, vitamins A, B8, C, E, and K, minerals such as iron, potassium, copper, and manganese, and several types of antioxidant, including beta carotene.
Are you hungry yet? Many of the foods on our list go beautifully together for a meal you can really feel good about eating. Oatmeal mixed with some berries is a powerhouse breakfast. For lunch, try a salad of leafy greens, carrots, avocado, and toasted nuts. At dinner, have some beans and brown rice with a nice piece of dark chocolate for dessert.
Feel free to mix and match these superfoods with other sources of lean protein, whole grains, and dairy to design a balanced diet that will keep you feeling and looking young for your whole life.
NOTE: This is not an exhaustive list as there are many other foods that are good for aging gracefully. Some will be discussed in the next article.