7 Foods Nutritionists Say Can Make You Live Longer
Look, no food is going to give you control magically over Father Time. But, these nutritious and research-backed foods may play a role in boosting your longevity. "Centenarians (people who live to be 100+ years old) have been widely studied regarding their lifestyle and diet," notes nutritionist Katherine Mitchell, RD, at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. "It has been found that they share many factors in common such as eating until 80% full, having a lean build and healthy BMI, eating a large amount of fruits/vegetables, plant protein, fish, and whole grains, as well as having a sense of purpose and being physically active every day."
Read on for 7 of these healthy powerhouses and start incorporating them into your daily diet ASAP.
1. Lentils and chickpeas
Time to fill your plate, y'all. "Pulses, including lentils and chickpeas, have been a part of the human diet for thousands of years. High in plant-based protein, fiber, and antioxidants, these foods support heart health by helping with weight management, lowering cholesterol and regulating blood pressure," says nutritionist Becky Garrison, RD, of the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council. "Research has also shown that consuming resistant starches like lentils, with servings of red meat negates colon cancer markers otherwise seen when red meat is eaten alone. These and many other factors are why populations that consume traditional Mediterranean diets, high in pulses, are frequently noted as having the longest average expected life span."
2. Fresh herbs and spices
The fun — and your centenarian goals — start here with the interesting flavor profiles you can create with these potent gifts from nature. "Herbs and spices, such as turmeric, basil, cloves, and sage, contain large amounts of phytochemicals and antioxidants which help to fight damage from carcinogens," says Mitchell. "Additionally, some spices such as cinnamon, can lower blood glucose levels for better control of diabetes. Chronically high levels of blood glucose can damage organs such as the heart and kidneys, which can have a negative effect on longevity."
"Beets are a wholesome root vegetable known in the nutrition world as a spectacular superfood. They help to generate nitric oxide production within the body, which naturally increases circulation and helps deliver more oxygen throughout your body," explains nutritionist Keri Glassman, RD, founder of Nutritious Life in New York City. "The result is more natural energy and support for healthy blood pressure. In a randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study from University of Iowa comparing the use of SuperBeets, a popular beetroot powder, to a placebo, after the 4-week trial period, the results showed that those individuals using SuperBeets experienced a beneficial effect on blood pressure levels vs. the placebo group." Got extra beets on hand? Try our tasty pickled beets recipe.
Ditch the chips and start snacking on these nutritional super stars. "It has been reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in several large studies that the consumption of nuts on a daily basis decreased the chance of death in participants by 20% over the 30-year period of the study," says nutritionist at Judy Deutsch, RD, at Canyon Ranch Lenox. "Also, in a very recent study from Frontiers in Immunology, it has been shown that eating a high-fiber diet (vegetables, nuts, beans, oats, etc.) may help delay aging of the brain due to its positive effects on gut microbes that can help reduce inflammation in the brain."
WATCH: Americans Are Eating Too Much Bacon and Too Few Nuts
5. Wild Blueberries
Look for frozen wild blueberries at your local grocer, or, when available, opt for a fresh pint. "Wild blueberries are powerhouses when it comes to assisting with healthy aging since they contain potent phytonutrients, including anthocyanins (thanks to their deep-blue pigments), that have been shown to protect health by fighting against inflammation, which reduces the risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, memory problems and cognitive decline," explain The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, and authors of The Nutrition Twins' Veggie Cure ."Wild blueberries are naturally low in fat and high in fiber (21% of your daily value — two times that of regular blueberries), helping promote overall health and well-being."
"Avocado is a superfood that can help in anti-aging, cancer prevention, and boosting of immune function. They are rich in an antioxidant called glutathione, also known as 'the master antioxidant.' There's even evidence that glutathione boosts the production of 'natural killer' cells, which do what their name implies: they attach to pathogens and tumor cells and wipe ‘em out," says Glassman. "Not to mention that they're high in healthy fats and fiber." Now, if only we had been selected for this study that pays you $300 to eat avocados every day for six months.
7. California Prunes
"This sweet dark purple fruit is packed with polyphenols which are antioxidants that protect the body against heart, eye, memory and immune system issues," share The Nutrition Twins. "The fertile California soil helps with the quality of the California Prunes and their unique combination of copper, vitamin K and boron in tandem with the polyphenols seem to prevent bone loss and preserve bone structure, reducing the risk of osteoporotic fracture with just five to six of them a day."