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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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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.

Extra-virgin olive oil also offers beneficial levels of oleocanthal, a compound that mimics the effects of anti-inflammatory medications including aspirin and ibuprofen.

Tips:

It's good for you, but don't go overboard; olive oil is caloric. Limit total oil consumption to 7 teaspoons daily (assuming all of the added fat you use is from olive oil) on a 2,000-calorie diet; 5 for a 1,600-calorie plan.

  • Make salad dressing with one part olive oil and three parts balsamic vinegar.
  • Choose olive oil instead of butter or margarine.
  • Lightly coat chopped broccoli, sweet or white potato, or carrots with olive oil and roast on a baking sheet at 400 degrees until done.

 

Fruits and Vegetables

Produce provides fiber, vitamins, and minerals, as well as hundreds of anti-aging phytonutrients. When it comes to age-defying properties, some produce is better than others, according to the United States Department of Agriculture's tests for antioxidant activity.

Still, any fruit and vegetable is better than none. People who take in the most produce -- upwards of 10 servings a day -- have higher levels of antioxidants in their bloodstream, which probably translates to better aging. Produce-lovers also have stronger bones, thanks to the magnesium and potassium that fruits and vegetables supply (dark greens are also rich in vitamin K, necessary to bolster bones).

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