BY M&F EDITORS
Whether or not you believe in the power of supposed “superfoods.,” the latest nutrition science research—as well as data collected from people living way beyond 80.—strongly suggests what (and how) we eat has a significant effect on the quality and duration of our lives.
So if you want to go the distance and keep pumping iron well into your golden years, consider incorporating these 10 foods with proven health benefits into your daily diet.
Along with being rich in protein and other nutrients such as selenium and Vitamin D, fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and other medical problems. One recent study from the University of Hawaii found that men who ate the most baked or boiled fish reduced their risk of heart disease-related death by 23 percent compared to those who ate the least.
Consuming veggies in a variety of bright colors like red, yellow and orange is a great way to ensure you’re getting a healthy mix of nutrients, and many nutrition experts believe that red ones, specifically, can enhance your wellness and longevity. Top selections include, red cabbage, red peppers, and beets.
Bananas are one of our best sources of potassium, which is an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. The average banana contains approximately 450 mg of potassium and only 1 mg of sodium, making it the perfect fruit to fight high blood pressure and protect against atherosclerosis. Along with helping to lower blood pressure, potassium prevents the weakening of the body’s bones. The potassium found in bananas neutralizes the high amounts of sodium in one’s diet, thus allowing for healthy amounts of calcium to remain within the body.
When it comes to heart-healthy foods, the avocado is right up there at the top. Avocados have been shown to lower “bad” cholesterol while raising your “good” cholesterol levels, and they help your body absorb heart-healthy vitamins such as lycopene and beta-carotene.
According to the USDA’s nutrient database, broccoli has, ounce for ounce, more vitamin C than an orange and as much calcium as a glass of milk. One medium spear has three times more fiber than a slice of wheat bran bread. Broccoli also happens to be one of the richest sources of vitamin A among all vegetables. As if that weren’t enough, through its presence of strong anti-cancer agents like glucoraphanin, beta-carotene, selenium, and other nutrients, broccoli is a natural wonder-drug for many types of cancer, including breast, prostrate, lung, colon, liver, and kidney.
Aside from being rich in vitamin C, tomatoes also contain 15 percent DV of vitamin A, 8 percent DV of potassium, and 7 percent of the recommended dietary allowance of iron for women and 10 percent RDA for men. However, it’s the lycopene found in tomatoes that really delivers a powerful kick of healthy antioxidants. One recent Harvard study indicated that men who consumed 10 servings of tomatoes a week can cut the risk of developing prostate cancer by a whopping 45 percent. So go heavy on the sauce the next time you order that pizza.
Yeah they’re delicious, but they’re also loaded with immunity-boosting antioxidants to ward off life-threatening diseases. One 2012 study found that at least one serving of blueberries or two servings of strawberries each week may reduce the risk of cognitive decline as people age.
With its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidative substances, olive oil is a no-brainer when it comes to your diet. Numerous studies have found that olive oil delivers protection against heart disease by lowering “bad” cholesterol levels, and elevating the “good” cholesterol. Research also reveals that olive oil may be linked to cancer prevention and healthy brain function.
You may not appreciate the way it makes your breath smell, but the health benefits of including garlic as part of your regular diet far outweigh any odorous drawbacks. That’s because garlic can help thin the blood, which can be helpful in the prevention of heart disease, such as heart attacks and stroke. It has also been shown to improve joint health and increase absorption of iron and zinc. In addition, studies have found that phytochemicals in garlic can stop the development of carcinogenic chemicals in the body.
Drink up. Study after study has found that drinking red wine is associated with decreased incidence of cardiovascular disease, including lower risk of heart attacks. In addition, it is believed the Resveratrol found in the red grape skin may help prevent fat accumulation and reduce insulin resistance, which lowers the risk of diabetes. But before you start downing whole bottles in one sitting, keep in mind that this superfood/drink should be consumed in moderation—no more than two glasses a day for men and one for women.