We all know deep inside us that how long we live, how healthy we are is greatly impacted by making smarter food choices. We know we can’t go wrong by following a healthy lifestyle, staying active and eating a nutrient-packed diet. Yes there are other variables, some we can do nothing about, but by eating clean and healthy we increase the odds of being healthy longer and perhaps even avoiding age-related diseases, including osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease.
We have all heard of super foods but what are they? Well, a super food is not a colorful comic book super hero (although many are colorful). I could not find an exact scientific definition to what a super food actually is. What I did find is that super foods contain natural ingredients with exceptional nutritional values or protective qualities.
They are unprocessed and are rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals that may help to protect against the impact of diseases as well as fight the effects of aging and improve mental alertness. There are hundreds of super foods out there. Below I have listed just a few of those that may be more common and familiar and are thought to be beneficial to us as we age.
We have been hearing of the benefits of olive oil for many years. This oil contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that may help prevent age-related diseases. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats, which promote healthy hearts and reduce the risk of cancer. Use olive oil for cooking or to dip bread in as an appetizer before dinner.
While yogurt has not been proven to directly affect aging, it is rich in calcium. This helps stave off osteoporosis and contains “good bacteria” that help maintain gut health thereby lowering the incidence of age-related intestinal illness.
Fish, especially wild oily fish such as tuna and salmon, is an abundant source of omega-3 fats, which help prevent cholesterol buildup in arteries and protect against abnormal heart rhythms. They also support healthy skin, hair and nails.
This is one of my favorite super foods! Dark cocoa is rich in flavanols that help preserve the healthy function of blood vessels. This in turn lowers the risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and dementia.
Just go nuts! Nuts are great sources of unsaturated fats offering benefits similar to those associated with olive oil. They’re also good sources of vitamins, minerals and other phytochemicals, including antioxidants. They are good for keeping the heart healthy and in fighting free radical damage that can eventually lead to cancer.
One of the best fruits to combat aging are these little blue gems – blueberries! They have the highest concentration of antioxidants of all their berry counterparts. Blueberries are helpful in fighting the physical and mental effects of aging. They may even slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. So add these gems to cereals, yogurt and shakes! They also make a great snack by themselves. Try to eat a half cup several times a week!
Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Pumpkin
These bright orange vegetables all contain beta-carotene and high amounts of Vitamin A and C which helps keep us maintain a healthy immune system as we age. These beta-carotene filled vegetables support healthy skin and eyes. They also help reduce the risk of a number of age related diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
Dark leafy greens, especially spinach and kale are no surprise! These vegetables help prevent eyesight deterioration as you age. They also help protect your body from free radical damage and reduce your risk of heart disease. Leafy greens help maintain glowing, youthful looking skin. Add these greens to your salads sandwiches and protein shakes.
Cucumbers are one of my favorite vegetables for snacking! They are also a great anti-aging food for those with joint and bone issues. They help form the collagen that supports a wrinkle free face (there must be a reason for those cucumber face masks)!
Tomatoes are an anti-aging powerhouse! They are high in lycopene which protects the skin, contributes to heart health and helps to ward off diseases such as cancer. A great reason to make tomatoes a staple in your diet!
As far as aging goes avocados are bursting with anti-aging components. They contain high levels of Vitamin E, which is what helps you achieve glowing skin and healthy hair. They also contain “good fat” (monounsaturated fatty acids). These fats are great for heart health and help you absorb other nutrients. And fiber, did I mention fiber? Avocados are also rich in fiber. By eating one half of an avocado you receive 1/4 of your daily fiber needs.
Broccoli is a well known super food. It is rich in nutrients including phytochemicals, which can help fight physical signs of aging, heart disease, and some cancers. Rich in Vitamin C, Broccoli helps prevent wrinkles by synthesizing collagen to create smooth, firm skin.
These are Just a Few Super Foods!
There are many more super foods that can benefit us as we age – mangoes, apples, bananas, cherries, egg plant, mushrooms, peas, pineapple and soy beans to just name a few more! We have to eat so why not include foods in our daily meals that are clean, healthy and just may helps us age more gracefully!
So here’s to eating healthy and looking and feeling fabulous!
Hi! This is Donna. I am a grandmother, mom, wife, and a teacher. I also love cookbooks, love to bake and really enjoy food! At age 56 I have developed a love of fitness after losing 46 pounds on the 21 Day Fix! I have always struggled with my weight! When menopause struck and things got totally out of control... My weight only went up not down. My muffin top turned into a bakery shelf. I desperately wanted to lose weight and improve my health. I wanted to be able to play and keep up with my beautiful grandchildren. Nothing I tried worked until I found the 21 Day Fix. Now instead of a tight size 16 I wear a comfortable 8 and even some 6's! At age 56 I am in the best shape of my life. My current goals are to improve my strength and to continue toning my body. I along with my daughter, Danielle, am here to help you reach your own fitness goals! You are never too young or old to become fitter, healthier, and stronger!