Some things about life—and how long we get to enjoy it—are out of our
control. But emerging nutrition science research, as well as data collected
from people in their 90s and beyond, shows what, when, and how we eat has a
profound influence on how long we live. Want to eat for a long and healthy
life? Well here are some foods that contributes to long and healthy living.
1. FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
We'll start with the scientific consensus: A diet rich in fruits and vegetables,
high in nutrients and low in calories, is your best bet for a long life. Need specifics? Eat more broccoli, grapes, and salad: Researchers have found
that compounds in these three foods pack extra life-extending benefits. These
bite-sized fruit favorites are check full of antioxidants, known to boost
immunity and stave off life-threatening disease. They'll help you age
gracefully as well. A 2012 study from Harvard University found that at least
one serving of blueberries or two servings of strawberries each week may reduce
the risk of cognitive decline in older adults.
Studies have found that
phytochemicals in garlic can halt the formation of carcinogenic chemicals in
the body, and that women who eat more garlic have lower risk of certain colon
3. OLIVE OIL
as it is healthy, this monounsaturated "good fat" is well known for
its heart-health and longevity benefits.
Studies also show that olive oil may
also be linked to brain health and cancer prevention. Aim for two tablespoons a
4. BOK CHOY
Studies have suggested that cruciferous vegetables like this
one contain nutrients, such as fiber, vitamin C, and folate, that can help you
cheat death. And that's likely the case even if you've already had a close
call: A study from Vanderbilt University found that breast cancer survivors in
Shanghai who ate more cruciferae—specifically of the turnip, cabbage, and bok-choy
variety popular in China—had lower risks of death or cancer recurrence during
the study period.
How to prevent heart disease, the largest killer in the
United States, according to the latest report from the National Center of
Health Statistics? Eat more foods that help keep your heart healthy, like
avocados and others already on this list, and improve your odds of a long life.
Avocados can lower your LDL "bad" cholesterol while raising your HDL
"good" levels, and they help your body absorb heart-healthy vitamins
like beta-carotene and lycopene.
Lycopene is also an important nutrient in the fight against
cancer—the second leading cause of death in the United States. And there's no
better source than rosy red tomatoes. Eating them cooked, in pasta sauce,
tomato soup, or chutney, actually increases the amount of carcinogen-fighting
carotenoids your body is able to absorb.
Beans, beans, are good for your…life? In a 2004 study
conducted on elderly people in Australia, Japan, Sweden, and Greece,
researchers found that participants had a 7% to 8% reduction in death for every
20 grams of legumes they consumed daily. A diet rich in beans and legumes
increases levels of the fatty acid butyrate, which can protect against cancer
growth, according to a study from Michigan State University.
Getting more fiber—specifically by switching from refined bread and pasta to
whole grains—can reduce your risk of death from any cause by 22%, according to
a 2011 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Experts say that fiber can protect against diabetes, heart disease, some
cancers, and obesity, and can reduce cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood
9. RED WINE
Several studies have suggested that small amounts of
alcohol—no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women—can
have heart-health benefits, and that moderate drinkers tend to live longer than
heavier imbibers or teetotalers. A 2012 Harvard Medical School study also found
that moderate drinking may also reduce men's risk of death in the two decades
following a heart attack.
If you want first-hand advice on longevity, listen to Tomoji
Tanabe. The world's oldest man from 2007 until his death at 113 in 2009 often
told interviewers that his lifelong abstinence from alcohol was the key to his
longevity. Tanabe's favorite foods were miso soup with clams and fried shrimp.
Surprise: he also drank milk every day.
11. PU-ERH TEA
A strong immune system is an important part of living to a
ripe old age, and for that you need lots of disease-fighting antioxidants.
Health nutrition expert Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, swears by pureh tea —an
earthy, rich variety that contains a lot more antioxidants than its
better-known green counterpart. Steep a pureh tea bag for three to five minutes
and serve with lemon and honey.
12. BLACK COFFEE
In April, 106-year-old Ethel Engstrom told the Pasadena Star News that she
stays healthy by eating well and drinking about 12 cups of black coffee a day.
You may not need that many to cheat death, however: A 2008 study from
researchers at Harvard University found that, compared with non-coffee
drinkers, women had an 18% lower risk of dying if they drank two to three cups
a day, and 26% lower if they drank four to five cups a day. Those who drank six
or more a day decreased their risk by 17%. A 2012 study by the National Institutes of Health and AARP supports this
theory. When researchers controlled for factors like smoking, drinking, and
eating red meat, they found that coffee drinkers—both men and women—tended to
Eat chocolate, add a year to your life. Men who ate modest
amounts of chocolate up to three times a month lived almost a year longer than
those who didn't in a 1999 Harvard study of more than 8,000 people. And in a
2009 study from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, patients who had
survived a heart attack were 44% less likely to die over the next eight years
if they ate chocolate up to once a week, versus none at all. Other types of
candy did not seem to have any effect on longevity. Preliminary studies have
identified the most beneficial part of chocolate: flavonols, the antioxidant
found in cocoa beans. To get the most flavonols stick with
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