Just about every day, a patient will ask me what they can do to age gracefully. While it’s a fact of life no one can literally turn back the hands of time, there are hundreds of studies that confirm we can improve the quality…and quantity of life when we follow certain guidelines. As a certified clinical nutritionist, I believe a nutrient-rich diet of healthy foods is at the center of a long, vibrant life. Following are my top picks for improving health, protecting your heart and energizing your day. Best of all, they taste great and are plentiful throughout the year.
Berries for Antioxidants – They’re sweet, juicy and delicious. Black and blue skinned fruits like blackberries, blueberries, and black grapes contain powerful antioxidants called flavonoids that help protect the body from free radical damage, believed to be a leading cause of aging.
Cold Water Fish for Heart – You’ve likely heard lots of commercials on TV recently for fish oil. Cold water fish contain valuable Omega 3 fatty acids to support heart, brain and skin. If you can’t eat fish three times a week, you can still get omega 3 from walnuts and flaxseed too.
Nuts for Immune System – While most varieties of nuts are fantastic sources of minerals and other nutrients, walnuts are particularly beneficial because they contain potassium, iron, and zinc. Eaten by the handful or sprinkled on desserts and salads, walnuts are great for your immune system and digestion. Plus, they are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids.
Red Wine for Arteries – It’s ok to imbibe in one five-ounce glass a day. The resveratrol in red wine is a potent antioxidant that protects your arteries and heart. Not a wine lover? You can still reap its benefits with a red wine or resveratrol supplement.
Whole Wheat Pasta for Energy – Whole wheat pasta, brown rice and other complex carbohydrates give you a consistent supply of energy and keeps you filled up. High in fiber, they also deliver naturally occurring minerals like iron.
Green Vegetables for Digestion – Boring, but true, if you could get more veggies in your diet, you would give your heart, digestion and total health a boost. For the biggest bang focus on vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and brussels sprouts. It’s best to eat them raw or lightly cooked to retain their full nutritional value.
Green Tea for Longevity – Green tea contains high concentrations of polyphenols called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant even more powerful than Vitamin C. It’s no wonder that for centuries green tea has been used in Asia for longevity. It’s also a delicious and inexpensive way to give you a mild energy boost from its naturally occurring caffeine. Great hot or cold!
Melons for Total Health – Melons have some of the best nutritional values of all the fruits. They fill you up with their water and fiber and taste great all year long.
Chocolate for Blood Pressure – Just what we were all hoping…chocolate IS good for you! but before you devour that box of bon bons, remember the darker the better and moderation is key. Recent science has discovered that dark chocolate contains antioxidants that are related to maintaining heart health and blood pressure.
Avocadoes for Cholesterol – Not only are avocadoes great with Mexican food, they’re a good source of healthy monounsaturated fat that may help reduce levels of bad cholesterol. In addition, avocadoes are a good source of vitamin E for healthy skin and rich in potassium to ease water retention.
When it comes to aging, fight back by adding these foods – or nutritional supplements – to your daily diet.