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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:

Fruit: Blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples, and cherries.

Vegetables: Kale, spinach, broccoli, artichokes, avocado, asparagus, cauliflower, sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin, and onions.

Tips:

  • Include berries at least once daily on top of breakfast cereals, in smoothies or salads, or snack on them as is.
  • Add dried cranberries or cherries to cooked whole grains.
  • Make a quick guacamole by mixing a ripe avocado and large, diced tomato with 1 tablespoon each of olive oil, fresh chopped cilantro leaves, and finely chopped onions.
  • Prepare a pumpkin smoothie with 1 cup canned pumpkin, 1/2 cup low-fat milk, and ground cinnamon and sugar to taste. Heat the remainder of the can as a side dish. Add chopped frozen kale or spinach to soups and pasta dishes.

Legumes

Legumes are packed with complex carbohydrates and fiber to ensure steadier blood glucose and insulin levels, and they provide a cholesterol-free source of protein. Legumes are also packed with antioxidants.

Top picks:

From black beans to soy beans, they're all good for you.

Tips:

  • Add beans to soups, salad, egg and pasta dishes
  • Puree cooked beans (includes canned) and add to soups or stews
  • Snack on bean dips and fresh vegetables or whole grain crackers
  • Munch roasted soy nuts or thawed edamame (green soy beans)
  • Substitute firm tofu for meat in vegetable stir-fry dishes

 

Whole Grains

Whole grains retain more of their natural nutrients, particularly age-defying vitamin E, fiber, and B vitamins, than refined varieties. They are also a wealth of antioxidant compounds.

Top picks:

Quinoa, millet, barley, oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta, cracked wheat, wild rice.

Tips:

  • Wrap sandwiches in whole-wheat tortillas instead of white
  • Choose whole-grain cereal for breakfast and snacks
  • Try wild or brown rice or whole-wheat pasta
  • Add leftover cooked whole grains to soups

Low-Fat Dairy

Dairy foods are excellent sources of bone-strengthening calcium. They also supply protein that bolsters bones and muscle, and is needed for peak immune function.

Top picks:

Milk, either 1% low-fat or fat-free. Milk is fortified with vitamin D, necessary for calcium absorption. Adequate levels of vitamin D may reduce prostate, colon, and breast cancer.

Tips:

  • Sip café au lait or cappuccino made from decaffeinated coffee and fat-free milk
  • Make mashed potatoes with fat-free evaporated milk
  • Enjoy a smoothie made with milk, berries, and crushed ice
  • Indulge a chocolate craving with fat-free chocolate milk

Fight Fat, Live Longer?

It's not only what you eat when it comes to stalling the aging process. Calories count, too.

"Being overweight stresses your heart, blood vessels, and joints, accelerating age-related diseases," says Willcox.

Excess body fat also plays a role in the development of dementia, certain cancers, and eye diseases, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Cutting a few hundred calories a day from your regular eating plan may be all it takes to make it into your 80s or 90s in relatively good health.

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