Eat to Love Longer
Are you ready to live younger? Good! Eating a diverse diet, including four servings of fruit per day, can make your RealAge up to 6.1 years younger.
What's more, Harvard Medical School researchers found that women who routinely nibble nutritious foods slash their risk of dying from the usual culprits, including heart disease and cancer. From berries and nuts to salmon and spinach, be sure to include these seven anti-aging powerhouses in your diet.
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Ounce for ounce, berries have more protective anti-aging plant antioxidants than almost any other food.
"These compounds not only lower your disease risks, they help prevent memory loss," Somer says. Aim to eat a cup of berries -- any kind, fresh or frozen -- at least three times a week. Since berries are high in filling fiber, they may also help curb weight gain.
Salmon is a prime source of omega-3 fatty acids -- the healthy fats that fend off heart disease and help keep your skin supple. Just 3 ounces of the fish also serves up 170% of your daily vitamin B12 (another nutrient that's good for heart health) and more than 80% of your daily vitamin D, which helps regulate blood pressure. Aim for two servings a week.
Nuts are excellent sources of not only protein, but magnesium and vitamins B and E as well (trusty fighters in the war against heart disease and cancer). Yes, nuts are high in fat, but it's the heart-healthy kind. Eat up to five small fistfuls a week, which is roughly 1/4 cup or about 15 to 20 almonds, cashews, walnuts, or pecans.
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It's almost impossible to meet your nutritional needs without eating dark leafy greens, such as spinach, romaine lettuce, collard greens, kale, and chard. They're huge sources of fiber, vitamins C and K, folic acid (a B vitamin that guards your heart and memory), lutein (a vision protector), and four essential minerals: calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium. Leafy greens also deliver a hefty supply of anti-aging vitamin A, which supports skin-cell turnover to help keep your skin soft and supple. Go for two servings a day -- for example, 1 cup cooked greens or 2 cups raw greens. The darker, the better.
Fiber-Rich Whole Grains
Whole grains have up to 96% more fiber, magnesium, zinc, chromium, and vitamins E and B6 than refined grains. Whole grains are a nutritional powerhouse, helping to prevent the same health problems that refined grains help cause: heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and even obesity. Ideally, all six of your daily recommended grain servings should be whole grains, but aim for at least three. What counts as a serving? One slice of whole-grain bread, a half-cup of cooked grains such as brown rice or quinoa, or a cup of whole-grain cereal.
Yellow and Orange Vegetables
Just one serving of fiber-filled, deep-yellow-orange vegetables supplies five times the beta carotene you need daily to lower your cancer risk, defend against colds and other infections, and protect your skin from sun damage. The potassium in these veggies also keeps your heartbeat in sync and your blood pressure down. Aim for two half-cup servings a day (the equivalent of one sweet potato or a cup of butternut squash or carrots).
Plain, low-fat or nonfat yogurt is a terrific source of B vitamins, protein, calcium, and -- if it has active cultures -- the healthy bacteria known as probiotics, which crowd out disease-causing germs. Enjoy four or more cups a week if this is your main dairy source.