It’s easy to find information about which foods will help you lose weight or build muscle. But what if your main concern is just to live a long, healthy life? To answer that question, we’ve put together a list of some of the top foods to help prolong life. Increase your chances of living well into old age by munching on these foods.
- Apples: This fruit is often listed as one of the top long-life foods out there. Apples are packed with healthy substances like fiber, folate and antioxidants. The vitamin E in apples may also help fight Alzheimer’s. Apples also contain a flavonoid called quercetin that protects the brain and polyphenols that increase life spans by 10 percent in lab studies. Doctors recommend eating an apple every day – just make sure you wash them well first.
- Mangoes: Just one mango contains 96 percent of the daily vitamin C you need. They’re also a great source of beta-carotene, which helps to fight against heart disease and cancer.
- Dates: As a great source of magnesium and antioxidants, dates are helpful for maintaining nerve function and muscle function. They also regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels and encourage strong bones and steady heart rhythms.
- Kale: You’ll often find kale listed as a “superfood,” and for good reason. Kale contains high amounts of vitamin C, calcium and flavonoids, which help kill off cancer cells. It’s also linked to a reduced risk of liver cancer. Just one cup of kale contains an astonishing 700 percent of the daily amount of vitamin K your body needs.
- Sweet potatoes: To lower your risk of certain cancers (including prostate cancer, skin cancer and lung cancer), eat sweet potatoes, which are packed with vitamin A and beta-carotene. About one cup of this veggie per week is sufficient.
- Jicama: Though not as commonly used in the U.S., jicama is actually an excellent root vegetable for prolonging life. It contains vitamin C and potassium to help lower high blood pressure. It even helps to fight wrinkles by increasing collagen production.
- Fish: In general, fish is good for your health. In particular, salmon, trout and canned light tuna are great for getting a significant dose of omega-3 fatty acids which are food for your brain and fighting off dementia. Some varieties of fish can even help skin looking moist and young. You don’t necessarily need to eat fish every day, however. Aim for about one fillet of trout (or another healthy fish) twice per week.
- Tofu: So tofu’s not technically a meat, but it’s a great meat substitute for vegetarians or those who just want some healthy protein. Tofu is loaded with calcium and omega-3 fats, helping to maintain good brain function and ward off dementia.
- Greek yogurt: This variety of yogurt is chock-full of great ingredients for prolonging life. The calcium and vitamin D in Greek yogurt are excellent for keeping bones strong and helping to prevent osteoporosis. In addition, this yogurt contains probiotics that keep your digestive tract in check.
- Pecans: Lots of nuts are good for your health, but pecans in particular have life-extending properties. They’re rich in gamma-tocopherols, which are a type of vitamin E that help lower LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” kind of cholesterol). Just don’t overdo it with this snack since they do contain quite a few calories.
- Chocolate: If you’ve got a sweet tooth, put it to good work for your health. Cocoa is incredibly heart-healthy due to the fact that it contains flavonoids which reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels and blood flow. The trick with using chocolate to your advantage is to eat the right kind – not the stuff that’s packed with excess sugar. Doctors recommend just 2 to 4 squares of dark chocolate (at least 70-75 percent cacao) per day.
- Coffee: Getting your caffeine fix may actually help extend your life. Coffee is linked to lower rates of prostate cancer. It’s also thought to protect against liver cancer, type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. For the best results, drink your coffee with as little added milk, sugar or other sweeteners as possible, and use moderation to avoid consuming excessive caffeine.
- Red wine: In moderation, red wine can be an excellent drink to prolong your life. Red wine actually contains a polyphenol compound called resveratrol which may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. Meanwhile, other polyphenols in red wine are increase good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol levels while improving blood flow to the heart. In general, doctors recommend limiting your daily red wine intake to one glass for women and two for men.
- Green tea: Numerous studies have shown that green tea can be linked to a boost in metabolic rates, which can decrease the risk of being overweight. One study also found that those who drank large amounts of green tea daily were less likely to die of any cause compared with those who had less than a cup a day of this tea.
There are plenty of foods that are good for you, but eating the ones listed above can help extend your life. If you’re unsure about how to incorporate these foods into your diet, talk to your doctor or a nutritionist for more information.