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From your brain to your bones, what you eat matters. So help yourself to some age-defying foods.

"What you eat makes a huge difference in how you age and how you feel," dietitian Manuel Villacorta says.

"Even your skin will stay younger-looking if you eat right," says Allison T. Pontius, MD, an expert in anti-aging and regenerative medicine at Williams Center for Plastic Surgery in Latham, NY.

What to Put on Your Plate

Colorful fruits and vegetables. The antioxidants in colorful vegetables and fruits, such as leafy greens, deep red tomatoes, blueberries, and carrots, help stop unstable molecules from damaging healthy cells. So at each meal, fill about half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Your goal is five to nine servings a day.

Three particular antioxidants -- vitamin C, zinc, and beta-carotene -- help protect your vision from macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness after age 64. If you already have macular degeneration, eating foods with these nutrients may slow its progress. Dark green, leafy vegetables -- spinach, kale, collard, and mustard greens -- are great sources. But you also help your eyes when you eat bright-colored produce, including corn, peppers, oranges, and cantaloupe.

Antioxidants like vitamin C can even help keep your skin younger-looking. One study linked eating lots of yellow and green vegetables to fewer wrinkles.

A powerful antioxidant in grapes and red wine, called resveratrol, may help lower your odds of getting cancer, heart disease, and premature aging.

Whole grains. Eating whole grains rich in fiber -- oats, quinoa, barley, wheat, and brown rice -- lowers your chance of developing type 2 diabetes. A healthy diet that contains whole grains also keeps blood vessels in peak condition. Your goal is three servings of whole grains a day.

Fish. Omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish offer many anti-aging benefits. They help protect your heart, lower your odds of having a stroke, and may even help guard against Alzheimer’s disease. Help yourself to two servings a week of fatty fish such as salmon, lake trout, or tuna.

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Henry S. Lodge, MD, is an associate clinical professor of medicine at Columbia University and co-author of Younger Next Year...More

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