Help Yourself to These Age-Defying Foods continued...
Dairy. The calcium and fortified vitamin D in dairy foods are crucial to strong bones. They help prevent osteoporosis and keep you active into your golden years. Include 3 cups of low-fat milk, yogurt, or other dairy products a day to ensure strong bones for life. By choosing low-fat instead of regular dairy, you’ll help keep your cholesterol levels in check, making you less likely to get heart disease.
Nuts. The fatty acids in nuts are among the healthiest you can find. If you avoid nuts because you think they're high in fat, think again. In fact, one study showed that snacking on nuts reduced the risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol by about 20%. You only need to eat 1/4 of an ounce a day to get the benefits -- that’s about 4 almonds.
Beans and lentils. These foods give you loads of plant-based protein, so they’re an age-protecting alternative to red meat with saturated fat, which is linked to heart disease and diabetes. Beans and lentils are inexpensive and easy to add to soups, casseroles, and side dishes.
Aging Foods to Avoid
For the best anti-aging diet, it’s important to limit foods that can harm your body. It’s easy if you follow these three guidelines.
- Go easy on high-fat meat, high-fat dairy, and bakery treats. The saturated fat found in these foods can clog your arteries, which can lead to heart problems.
- Limit sugar as much as possible. Eating too much sugar can send your blood sugar levels on a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs. Over time, excess calories may make you insulin resistant, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. Diabetes damages your blood vessels and often leads to heart disease. "The less sugar you eat, the healthier you'll be," Pontius says.
- Spare the salt. Eating too much salt, a form of sodium, can raise your blood pressure. Over time, high blood pressure can damage many parts of your body, including your kidneys, your eyes, and your brain. Limit sodium to 2,400 milligrams -- about 1 teaspoon of table salt -- throughout your entire day. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may suggest you eat even less, about 1,500 mg a day. Check labels for the sodium content in canned, frozen, and boxed foods. Packaged foods typically pack in a lot of salt -- you may be eating more than you realize.
Give Your Body the Fuel It Needs
Can you get the benefits of nutrients through supplements, instead of thinking so much about what you eat? Not really, says dietitian Manuel Villacorta, author of Eating Free.
You need calories from food to have the energy to do everything you want to do. For steady energy, Villacorta suggests you eat three modest-sized meals a day, and keep healthy snacks handy for between meals. Drink plenty of water. Becoming dehydrated can rob you of energy and cause your skin to dry out.
Also, research shows that nutrients in whole foods interact in complex ways to protect your body. Isolating a single nutrient in a supplement rarely offers the exact same benefit.
“It's smarter -- and easier -- to plan your diet around foods, not nutrients," Villacorta says. "What you eat makes a huge difference in how you age and how you feel."