People in ancient times roamed the world looking for the fountain of youth, but you may not have to look any farther than your kitchen. Scientists have discovered that certain everyday foods can decrease your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and more.
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Others contain antioxidants, which may be able to help combat the free radicals that age and destroy the cells in your body. Eating these simple, common foods can lower your risk of diseases that could shorten your lifespan and trick your body’s cells into thinking they belong to a 20 year old.
Green tea is rich in powerful antioxidants called polyphenols, which fight the free radicals that break down and age your cells. There is evidence that it has a protective effect on the brain, reducing your chances of stroke and slowing down memory loss. It may also be part of the reason that Japan has such a high life-expectancy. Studies have shown that people in Japan who drink five or more cups of green tea per day are less likely to contract cardiovascular disease than those who do not.
Another spectacular source of polyphenols, olive oil also provides the benefits of monounsaturated fat. This healthy fat lowers your body’s levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) while raising levels of good cholesterol (HDL), keeping your arteries from narrowing. Studies have also shown that like green tea, olive oil lowers your risk of certain cancers and slows the destruction of DNA. It isn’t clear whether this effect is because of the healthy fat or the polyphenols, but it is clear that cooking with olive oil instead of butter is a phenomenal idea for your health.
Blueberries have a higher antioxidant level than any other fruit or vegetable. As an anti-aging superfood, they’re best known for their effects on the brain; a 2011 study showed that people who are given blueberry supplements have lower rates of memory loss and better cognitive functioning than those who aren’t. However, blueberries’ effects aren’t limited to your mind. Another study showed that fruit flies that eat blueberry extract live 10 percent longer and are more physically active than those that don’t. They can even speed up your reaction time, improve the appearance of your skin, preserve the cells in your eyes and prevent bone loss. With benefits like that, there’s no reason not to have a big dish of blueberries every night.
A Harvard study showed that people who eat a handful of nuts every day are 20 percent less likely to die over a 30-year period than people who don’t, and that’s death from any cause. The nuts did an especially good job of protecting against heart disease and cancer. Although the study didn’t show any difference between the effects of various kinds of nuts, you might want to consider walnuts as your best bet. Like so many other great anti-aging foods, walnuts are high in polyphenols to slow the deterioration of your cells. They also have heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which can protect you from heart disease, stroke, cancer and inflammation.
Green, Leafy Vegetables
If you’ve heard that spinach is good for you once, you’ve heard it a thousand times. Make it a thousand and one. Green, leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and collard greens are so high in necessary vitamins and minerals that they provide your body with virtually everything it needs to fight disease and help you live longer. They’re high in, you guessed it, antioxidants that fight the free radicals in your body, and their spectacular levels of folate and fiber help prevent a variety of cancers. Their high levels of vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as magnesium, calcium, potassium and fiber, give you the effects of a multivitamin in a single food.
So next time you’re looking for a good lunch, toss a salad of spinach, berries and walnuts, drizzle it with an olive-oil based vinaigrette, and wash it down with a cup of green tea. You may be enjoying that meal well into your 80s.