Fatty acids in seafood help quench the flames of chronic inflammation. In addition, "there's very good new data suggesting that omega-3 fats from fish act on an area of the brain that leads to improved mood and attitude among healthy people," says Artemis P. Simopoulos, M.D., author of The Omega Diet. These improvements in outlook lead to feeling healthier and more vigorous, she explains. The omega-3s in fatty fish like salmon and tuna have the most potent anti-inflammatory effects. But it's smart to consume omega-3s from plant sources, like walnuts and flaxseed, too - especially if you're not fond of fish.
A 2008 review of these diet-friendly foods - which include whole wheat, oats, and brown rice, and the bread, cereal, and other edibles made from them - concluded that a meal plan loaded with whole grains helps you stay slim, thanks, in part, to fiber's role in appetite control. Their low rankings on the glycemic index (a system that rates the effect of different carbohydrates on blood sugar levels) may also play a role.
A raft of research has also shown that whole grains offer protection against diabetes, heart disease, stroke, colon cancer, high blood pressure, and gum disease. These benefits are tied to the array of vitamins, minerals, plant chemicals, and again, fiber that work together to promote health. (That's why refined grains, which filter out these nutrients during manufacturing, and add some back later in the process, don't offer the same advantages.)
It's an anti-aging bonanza: Being active maintains muscle mass, boosts metabolism, and keeps your heart and lungs primed, among other benefits. Now, a recent study has found that running, in particular, promotes a long, independent life. Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine followed a group of runners and non-runners for 21 years and found that elderly runners put off age-related disabilities for 16 years beyond their non-running counterparts. Runners also lived longer: 19 years into the study, only 15 percent of them had died compared with 34 percent of the non-runners. And the active ones were less likely to die from heart disease, stroke, cancer, and neurological conditions. While this study examined running, 30 minutes of more moderate aerobic activity, five days a week, will keep you healthy, according to recently released guidelines from the American Heart Association and American College of Sports Medicine. What should also be on your fitness agenda: strength training twice a week to maintain muscle and keep your metabolism humming.