Of course, we’ve heard the hype about all kinds of fad diets, from Keto, to Paleo, to DASH, to no carbs. But forget waist-whittling and weight loss, we’re looking for something more in our diets. We’re talking energy, glowing skin, a more even complexion, and happy insides.
Haven’t found the fountain of youth? Turns out, it was in your kitchen all along. Who knew?
Having a flat belly, a limber body, and a strong heart—not to mention a bright smile, firm, glowing skin and a full head of hair are benefits that come with youth. Eating the right foods will certainly keep you looking and feeling vibrant for decades to come.
Add these super foods to your shopping list and you’ll never feel old:
Okinawa, an island off mainland Japan, is home to more centenarians than anywhere else in the world. In fact, about 7 out of every 10,000 citizens live to blow out 100 birthday candles! What do they all have in common? They drink green tea every day—and it’s likely one of the reasons they live so long, say experts. Researchers from the Norwich BioScience Institutes recently discovered that the polyphenols, a type of micronutrient in green tea, blocks something called VEGF, a signaling molecule in the body that triggers plaque buildup in the arteries that can lead to heart attacks, stroke and vascular disease. The life-extending brew may also ward off wrinkles by fighting inflammation and improving the skin’s elasticity, keeping you young both inside and out.
Kick it up a notch with our Green Arnold Palmer recipe.
And speaking of anthocyanins, grapes are filled with them, too. In addition to their arthritis-fighting properties, they also help boost collagen in the retina, which protects the eyes against age-related macular degeneration.
Puffy, dark circles under the eyes often become worse with each passing birthday—and being dehydrated make matters even worse. Salty foods, alcohol, hot weather and not drinking enough water can strip your body of moisture and create inflammation, which results in the Rocket Raccoon complexion. To replenish your body, cut up some citrus fruits (rind included), soak them in a pitcher of ice water and drink in large quantities, every day. The citrus not only improves the water’s flavor, but the rinds contain a powerful anti-inflammatory compound called de-limonene, which helps the liver flush toxins from the body, according to the World Health Organization.
Of all the nuts at the bar to go home with, which will prove best for your ticker? The walnut, researchers say. Ironically, or perhaps Mother Nature’s way of giving us a hint, heart-shaped walnuts are brimming in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids that can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease—an umbrella term that refers to a number of deadly complications including heart attack and stroke. The most comprehensive review of clinical trials on nut consumption in relation to cardiovascular disease showed consuming just one ounce of walnuts five or more times a week—about a handful every day—can slash heart disease risk by nearly 40 percent.
More than five million Americans are estimated to have Alzheimer’s disease—a number that’s expected to nearly triple by 2050 if there are no significant medical breakthroughs, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. There’s a genetic basis to Alzheimer’s, and if the disease runs in your family, it’s especially important to make changes to your lifestyle to minimize your risk. Just adding more blueberries to your diet can help. Rich in antioxidants that give them their purple or deep red color, the berries protect cells from damage by changing the way neurons in the brain communicate and reducing the accumulation of protein clumps most frequently seen in Alzheimer’s. In one study, older adults who supplemented with blueberry juice for just 12 weeks scored higher on memory tests than those receiving a placebo. Researchers have found the same thing in animals: Those fed blueberries experience significantly less brain cell loss when exposed to oxidative stress like that experienced by people suffering a neurodegenerative disease.
New research has found that the reason melanoma rates are so low in regions like the Mediterranean—where going topless on the beach is all part of the summertime fun—has to do with the Mediterranean diet. Foods high in antioxidants, particularly deeply colored fruits and vegetables, can help fight the oxidizing effect of UV rays. One study in the British Journal of Dermatology found participants who ate five tablespoons of tomato paste (a highly concentrated form of fresh tomatoes) daily showed 33 percent more protection against sunburn than a control group. And tomatoes work double duty to boost beauty: While the carotenoids and antioxidants help the body fight off oxidation that ages skin cells, they also boost pro-collagen—a molecule that gives skin its taut, youthful structure.
Choose cherry and grape tomatoes for maximum benefits.
There aren’t many things that are a better choice for on-the-go snacking than apples. One medium-size fruit is packed with four grams of soluble fiber—17 percent of the Daily Value (DV). “This is important for colon health and controlling blood sugar levels,” says Elson Haas, M.D., author of Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Bonus: Red apples also contain a compound called quercetin that may keep arthritis and its associated pain at bay.
If going up and down the stairs isn’t as easy as it once was, or your back is always a little bit achy, it’s likely due to inflammation. In fact, most age-related diseases (like obesity, heart disease, and cancer) and discomforts are the result of inflammation. To ease your aches and pains, add tart cherries to your diet. They’re a good source of anthocyanins, antioxidant compounds that block inflammation-causing enzymes.
Getting older can be a pain—literally. As we age, the aches and pains in our joints become all the more common. But thankfully, eating this delicious fruit can help. Blackberries contain antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins that fight inflammation. They’re also a good source of ellagic acid, another antioxidant that helps fight inflammation which exacerbates joint pain.
Thanks for their high vitamin K content, noshing on leafy vegetables like kale, collards and mustard greens can help ward slow cognitive decline, according to new research that reviewed the diets of nearly 1,000 participants. In fact, the researchers discovered that people who ate one to two servings of the greens daily had the cognitive ability of a person 11 years younger than those who consumed none.