As we age, our bodies begin to break down. Certain activities that we once enjoyed become too intense, and some of our favorite foods might not agree with us very well anymore. Luckily, there are all kinds of changes you can make to slow that aging process.
Eating a balanced diet is one of the best things you can do to extend your life and stay as healthy and vital as possible.
There are certain foods that are good for you at any age, but have special benefits for those over 50. These are all flavorful choices that you can enjoy eating.
Join us as we review the 7 superfoods that will keep you looking and feeling young well into your golden years.
As we approach middle age, the risk for problems like type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol goes up. Adding beans to your daily diet is a fantastic way to knock that risk back down. Just ¾ cup of beans or lentils each day reduces your bad cholesterol (LDL) by up to 5%. Beans can also improve blood sugar levels in people who already have diabetes.
There is an amazing range of beans and lentils, so you should be able to find a variety or two that you really like. One thing to remember is that if you choose canned beans, it’s best to give them a rinse before eating because canned foods are really high in sodium.
Heart disease risk is one measure of health that spikes dramatically once men hit 45 and women reach 55. Therefore, the more cholesterol-lowering foods you can build into your diet, the better. Oats are great for this due to a type of soluble fiber called beta glucan. Soluble fiber binds with cholesterol during digestion and allows it to pass out of your body, rather than stay behind in your arteries.
Aim for at least 3 grams of beta glucan each day to reduce both total and LDL cholesterol levels by 5-10%. It’s worth it – people who eat a lot of oats have been found to have a lower risk of early death than people who don’t. Oats are a very affordable staple, so there’s no excuse not to pick up the habit!
Good old apples are a fantastic dietary staple for lots of reasons. Apples lower the risk of diabetes by helping to regulate blood sugar levels. They contain an average of 5 grams of fiber, which can lower cholesterol. And apples also contain a substance called quercetin which is known to lower blood pressure.
They are also a reliable source of vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants. However, apples do appear on the Dirty Dozen list for pesticide residue, so organic is best if you can afford it.
A salty snack every now and again can be very hard to resist, but when it comes in the form of chips or crackers, you end up eating an insane amount of saturated fat and sodium. Try nuts instead. Studies have shown that eating an ounce of mixed nuts every day reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke by 28%.
It doesn’t have to be mixed nuts; any variety you like will do, including the much more affordable peanut. You can eat your nuts in a handful or chop and toast them as an excellent crunchy topping for salads, roasted vegetables, or casseroles.
5. Leafy Greens
We’ve spoken a lot about foods that improve your cardiovascular and metabolic health, but what about your brain power? That’s where leafy greens come in. Recent research has determined that people who eat a lot of leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collards compare in cognitive ability to people 11 years younger who rarely eat these foods.
One caveat is that leafy greens do not mix terribly well with the blood thinner Coumadin, so speak to your doctor about the right portion size if you take this medication.
Another fantastic brain booster includes berries of all kinds. This variety of fruit is high in certain phytochemicals that are thought to increase blood flow to the brain while reducing inflammation at the same time.
The result is slower age-related memory decline and a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Berries are also great in general due to their high fiber content and range of vitamins and minerals. If you can’t get your hands on fresh berries year-round, frozen can be just as good.