Several factors contribute to aging – inflammation, oxidation and chronic disease – and avoiding these youth bashers is the first step to looking younger.
“To accomplish this, maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and consume an antioxidant-rich diet,” says Alexander Nella, R.D., with the University of California Davis Health System. As the name suggests, antioxidants protect against oxidation – the body’s rust – caused by free radicals, which are unstable atoms that attack your cells and cause DNA damage (a precursor to cancer). While Nella admits no one food can make a diet healthy, or make you age well, incorporating the following foods into your diet however, can help turn back the clock.
These delicious fruits contain anthocyanins, which prevent damage to cells, DNA, protein and lipids. Not to mention, they are known for improving vision, protecting against Alzheimer’s disease and fighting colon cancer. For an added bonus, new research suggests polyphenols in blueberries may prevent new fat from forming. At the market, search for uniformly plump, indigo-hued berries with taught skin and a dull white frost. Nella recommends eating them raw (to preserve their phytochemicals) on salads, cereal, yogurt, ice cream, oatmeal, or by the handful with nuts.
In the cruciferous family, this power vegetable contains sulforaphane, which can target and kill cancer cells. Of course, it’s also a good source of multiple antioxidants, notably beta-carotene and vitamin C. Broccoli is high in soluble fiber and, therefore, may lower blood cholesterol. When shopping, look for rigid stems with tight floret clusters that are deep green or tinged purple. Raw is the most effective way to munch on broccoli; try it dipped in hummus or tzatziki sauce.
This popular fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation such as arthritis and skin dryness and may lower the risk of heart disease and improve brain function. It’s also a great source of vitamin D. Choose wild salmon over farm-raised – it contains fewer calories and has a lesser risk of being contaminated with PCBs. To avoid food borne illness, it’s best to cook salmon; try it baked, grilled or steamed. Julie Adcock, R.D., with Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital, recommends serving it sprinkled with fresh or dried herbs or cooked with garlic, onion and lemon.
Tea contains compounds called L-theanine and catechins. The former may help decrease stress and the latter may help reduce the risk of developing certain cancers and heart disease. Some studies even show that individuals who drink green tea have less cognitive decline than those who don’t drink tea at all. The best is green tea, packed with the antioxidant ECGC, which has a revolving range of benefits, from preventing prostate cancer to aiding with inflammatory conditions to increasing metabolism. Note: Hot tea has more catechins than iced tea, while herbal, powdered and premixed tea drinks are low in antioxidants.
Though maintaining healthy cells is important to staying youthful, so is controlling weight gain. Oatmeal is a whole grain that contains soluble fiber, which can help with appetite control and lowering cholesterol. Additionally, oatmeal contains selenium, a mineral that helps support skin elasticity, which protects you from the sun’s UV rays. Shop for steel cut oats – they’re some of the least processed and generally contain more fiber. Adcock warns that some instant oatmeal packets contain added sugar. For a tasty breakfast, mix 1 cup of cooked oatmeal with one ounce of walnuts, one small banana and some cinnamon.
For the second installment of Style’s three-part anti-aging series, check back in October for the best turn-back-the-clock products.