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50+: Live Better, Longer

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Aging Well: Eating Right for Longevity

Is your diet the key to longevity? Find out why eating right just may mean aging right, too.

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While none of these foods is the "Fountain of Youth," including them on a regular basis as part of a balanced diet can reduce the toll time takes on your body.

Nuts

Nuts are cholesterol-free protein sources, and are worthy substitutes for fatty meats. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that in a group of nearly 35,000 women, those who ate foods rich in vitamin E, including nuts, lowered their risk of having a stroke.

Top picks:

Almonds for their high vitamin E levels; pecans, for their antioxidants; and walnuts, for omega-3s.

Tips:

  • Top breakfast cereals, yogurt, salads, and cooked vegetables with an ounce of chopped nuts.
  • Snack on an ounce of whole almonds (about 24) for almost half the vitamin E you need for the day.
  • Enjoy a nut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread.
  • Concoct a smoothie by blending a medium frozen banana, 1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, and 2 teaspoons sugar (optional).

Fish

According to the American Heart Association, fish harbors omega-3 fats that reduce the risk of plaque buildup in your arteries; decrease blood triglyceride (fat) levels; help lower blood pressure; and lessen the odds of sudden death. Fish is a wise protein choice because of its relatively low saturated fat and cholesterol content.

Top picks:

Salmon, sardines, and canned tuna are among the fish with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Tips:

  • Have at least two fish meals a week instead of fatty meats.
  • Add canned light tuna or canned salmon to salads instead of chicken or cheese.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and beneficial plant compounds. It's also free of the trans fats found in some margarines and other processed foods, and that's a good thing. A study published in the journal Neurology found that among healthy people 65 and older, the higher the saturated and trans fat intake, the greater the cognitive decline during a six-year period.

Top pick:

The extra virgin variety. A recent report in the Annals of Internal Medicine found extra-virgin olive oil more beneficial than other types for increasing the high-density lipoprotein levels (HDL or good cholesterol) in men.

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