We eat to live, but we could eat to live even longer. These 10 diet changes can help you add years to your life. (Bonus: They’re all delicious, so you won’t mind making a few changes to your daily routine!)
Have a drink for your health! Moderate consumption of red wine has been shown to slow age-related declines in cardiovascular function, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). It also improves cholesterol level and inflammatory response, states the Mayo Clinic. For women, moderate consumption means no more than one glass each day; for men, no more than two.
A study from Loma Linda University in California found that people who eat very little meat live longer. Not only do vegetarians eat less saturated fat, they eat more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
People who live in Okinawa, the southernmost part of Japan, are known for their extra-long life spans and low risk for age-related diseases. Research suggests much of their long-life success is due to a healthy lifestyle, namely their diet. Okinawans eat fewer calories than most other cultures, but their diet is very nutritionally dense. In particular, they eat a lot of protein-rich tofu (which may help prevent breast cancer and heart disease) and beta-carotene- and vitamin C-rich sweet potatoes.
Watermelon is high in lycopene, a nutrient known for its cancer- and heart-disease-fighting benefits. Store it at room temperature, because research from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that watermelons produce more lycopene at room temperature than when they are chilled.
That may not sound like the most health-conscious advice, but the good-for-you variety of fat (namely monounsaturated) can help lower bad cholesterol, raise good cholesterol, and cut your risk of atherosclerosis. Foods high in monounsaturated fats include nuts, olives, oils, and avocados.
People who eat more slowly can more easily detect when they’re full than people who eat hurriedly. What does this mean for living longer? People who eat more slowly also eat less, and research suggests that people who eat lower-calorie diets live longer.
Vitamin C may protect the body’s cells from harmful free radicals. Unfortunately, vitamin C is water-soluble, and our bodies don’t store it. In order to keep your levels up, you need to eat fruits and vegetables regularly, multiple times each day. Have an orange with your breakfast, a delicious spinach salad for lunch, and steamed broccoli with dinner.
Research from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds that the more fiber you eat, the lower your risk of coronary heart disease. The daily recommendation is 25 to 35 grams, but most Americans eat less than half that amount.
The humble North American cranberry, known best as a natural way to prevent urinary tract infections, may also help you live longer. Studies in fruit flies show that the tiny berry can increase longevity.
Heart-healthy omega-3s have been shown to lower bad cholesterol, help the body combat inflammation, and reduce the risk of cancer and heart attack. What’s the best source of these fats? Cold-water, fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, or trout. If you’re not a fish eater, try ground flaxseed, spinach, or walnuts.