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For the last 25 years, researchers have been trying to find ways to prolong a person’s lifespan while increasing his healthspan, which is the number of years one a person can live in reasonably good health, free from disease.
While having “good” genes may be responsible for 20 percent of how long you live , the rest depends on your habits. Good habits such as following a healthy eating regimen, exercising regularly and avoiding alcohol and smoking have been linked by numerous studies to increased longevity.
In addition, there are certain foods that can help you live longer and healthier. Here are some of the best foods recommended by dietitians and nutritionists that can help you live longer and age gracefully. Beans and legumes
These little nutrient powerhouses offer an incredible amount of plant-based protein as well as essential vitamins and minerals . (Related: Improve your well-being and boost longevity with the Blue Zones diet .)
Beans and legumes are also loaded with fiber that supports healthy digestion and bowel regularity. The complex carbohydrates in beans and legumes can provide your body with a more lasting energy source than simple carbohydrates like sugar.
Eating fiber-rich foods is great for stabilizing blood sugar levels and decreasing your risks of insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes and weight gain. Cruciferous vegetables
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables are known for their digestive benefits . Maintaining a healthy digestive system is not only important for optimal nutrient absorption but also for a robust immune system.
Eating cruciferous vegetables is also linked to a number of benefits related directly to living longer. They’re rich in fiber, antioxidants and vitamins A, C and K – all of which are associated with healthy aging.
Sulforaphane, an antioxidant primarily found in cruciferous vegetables, is known to have anticancer activities and is said to protect against heart disease as well as support blood glucose control in people with Type 2 diabetes. Berries
Colorful berries are known for their abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
The antioxidant content of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries is among the highest of all fruits and enables them to combat free radicals that can damage your cells, as well as inflammation.
Berries have long been studied for their health benefits, which include lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, protecting against cancer and reducing inflammation. What’s even more intriguing about berries is their potential effect on brain health.
Published in the Annals of Neurology , the Nurses Health study, which followed over 16,000 participants over the age of 70, found that high intakes of blueberries and strawberries are linked to slower cognitive decline .
Another study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that blueberry extract may actually improve memory . Dark leafy greens
Time and again, studies have shown that eating dark leafy greens is linked to a slew of health benefits, including a reduced risk of early death.
A meta-analysis published in the JRSM Cardiovascular Disease looked at 13 studies and found that regular leafy green consumption is associated with a 15.8 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease .
An observational study published in Neurology also found that eating one serving per day of green leafy vegetables and foods rich in alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E), folate, kaempferol, lutein, nitrate, phylloquinone (vitamin K1) and zeaxanthin may help slow age-related cognitive decline, improve mental sharpness and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) . Nuts
While all nuts offer health benefits, walnuts stand out when it comes to disease prevention and healthy aging. Eating walnuts has been linked to better heart health, a lower risk of cancer, reduced inflammation, better blood sugar control in diabetics and better brain health.
A study published in Current Developments in Nutrition also suggested that regular walnut consumption could help you live longer . Researchers analyzed 18 years of data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up study and found that men and women who ate at least five servings of walnuts per week lived 1.94 years and 1.78 years longer, respectively.
Experts believe these benefits are thanks to the combination of the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), monounsaturated fats and certain polyphenols in walnuts. Polyunsaturated fats like omega-3s have also been found to help reduce joint pain, which may improve quality of life among the elderly.
Two other nuts that stand out are: Almonds, which contain the highest amount of vitamin E and riboflavin — nutrients that are essential for healthy skin, vision and cell function. Almonds are also rich in magnesium and manganese.
Pistachios, which are a good source of manganese, phosphorus and potassium.
In addition to monounsaturated fats, olive oil contains polyphenols that function as antioxidants . These antioxidants protect against cell damage and inflammation.
A study published in the ? Journal of the American College of Cardiology? reported that people who included more than half a tablespoon of olive oil in their daily diets had an 18 percent reduced risk of coronary heart disease .Research has also found that regular olive oil consumption may slow the shortening of telomeres, an event that naturally occurs with aging.A study involving people over the age of 50 found that olive oil consumption can improve a person’s ” successful aging index ,” which measures a variety of physical health outcomes such as cardiovascular disease risk factors and social and mental health outcomes commonly associated with aging. Fatty fish Older adults who regularly eat fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids – primarily oily varieties, like albacore tuna, mackerel, salmon and trout – tend to live longer than adults who don’t, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the University of Washington .Fatty-fish eaters also have a lower risk of dying from heart disease . The researchers noted that the benefits of maintaining healthy blood omega-3 levels could actually add years to your life. Whole grains Research supports the benefits of consuming whole grains for […]