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By Samantha B. Cassetty, M.S., R.D. and Delia Hammock, M.S., R.D
Good Housekeeping Magazine Logo
These six food groups hold the "power" to help you lose weightand turn back the clock. Don't miss our easy seven-day meal plan and delicious anti-aging snacks!

1. Produce

Piling your plate with fruits and vegetables is a no-brainer when it comes to weight loss — they're low in calories, high in nutrients, and filling — but the latest studies show that certain ones can provide surprising anti-aging benefits.

There's buzz about blueberries, for instance, for their memory-boosting potential. But berries of all hues are antioxidant-rich, reports Navindra P. Seeram, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy in Kingston. That means they combat free radicals, molecules that can cause widespread cell damage and are linked to chronic inflammation. Unlike the inflammation that occurs when you sprain an ankle or strain a muscle, the type that contributes to aging is persistent, and thought to be at the root of most chronic diseases, from cancer, heart disease, and diabetes to Alzheimer's, arthritis, and osteoporosis. Berries' beauty bonus: They're chock-full of vitamin C, another potent antioxidant that may help keep your complexion looking smooth by fighting those pesky (skin-damaging) free radicals.

To keep your vision sharp, set your sights on spinach and other dark leafy greens. These veggies are prime sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, plant pigments that protect your eyes from the harmful effects of ultraviolet light. Leafy greens are also rich in vitamin K, a nutrient that plays a role in reducing bone loss and preventing fractures.

2. Protein

This key dietary component becomes even more critical starting in the 40s, when muscle mass begins to decline by up to 1 percent a year. That drop slows metabolism, which makes the pounds pile on more easily. The double whammy consequence: Added weight puts your health at risk, and down the road, diminished muscle mass can throw off your balance (upping chances of a fall), sap your strength, and even threaten your ability to recover from an illness or accident.

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