The 51 Best Foods to Eat to Stay Young, Says Science
Eating healthy foods can have a wide range of benefits, from helping you lose weight to giving you more energy. Beyond that, there are specific eats that you can incorporate into your regular diet that will not only keep you healthier but also keep you looking and feeling younger.
In fact, if you want to avoid or fight the effects of aging, then your best option is to eat your fair share of both fruits and vegetables, according to a 2012 study that was published by the US National Library of Medicine and experts who agree with this advice today.
"I truly believe in the mentality 'you are what you eat,'" says Roxane Bakker, a registered Dietitian with Vitl. "Our food is paramount in determining how we feel, how we age, and, most importantly, how often we fall ill. A bad or sub-optimal diet that consists of ultra-processed foods and sugar burdens the body with long-term inflammation, increasing the risk of chronic diseases. What you eat can be seen as one of the most important pillars for feeling young and staying in optimal health."
Shena Jaramillo, MS, RD, of Peace and Nutrition, agrees. "The foods we choose to nourish with on a daily basis will have immediate and long-term effects on how we feel through the day and how we age. Choosing more plant-forward foods, such as fruits, veggies, and plant-based proteins, more frequently will help to reduce inflammation and increase cell repair and growth to prevent many effects of aging."
With this in mind, here are 50 foods and drinks that will help you live longer. Whether they help boost longevity or stave off chronic disease, these are the foods you want to load up on to live into your 90s and beyond. And for more, check out The #1 Best Supplement to Slow Aging, Say Experts.
These dark-hued berries do more than just add punch and color to a bowl of oatmeal; they might fight cancer, according to recent research. Blueberries may help combat ovarian cancer based on a study by Oncology Letters, which found that the bite-size fruit inhibited the presence of a biomarker for the disease.
One great way to maximize your blueberry intake is by making a smoothie. If you need some recipe inspiration try one of our 56 Smoothies for Weight Loss.
These nuts have a reputation for being brain food, but that's not the only benefit they tout. Research by Nutrients shows walnuts help lower LDL (or bad) cholesterol while keeping levels of healthier HDL cholesterol constant. Whether you grab a handful before heading out the door or chop up a couple to add some crunch to your salad, walnuts are a great way to boost heart health.
Those struggling with osteoarthritis may want to consider adding avocado to their diet, according to a recent study by The British Journal of Sports Medicine. Research shows that individuals suffering from the disease reported short-term improvements in pain reduction and mobility. While further work is needed to support this correlation, avocado may offer at least temporary relief for osteoarthritis patients.
Curious what all the buzz on green tea is for? The beverage is loaded with antioxidants and compounds that will do all sorts of good for your body, including reducing your risk of gastric cancer. A recent study in the journal Public Health Nutrition found that sipping green tea has a preventative effect on reducing the likelihood of developing the disease. It can also help you slim down, which will, in turn, help you live longer, thanks to the compounds found in green tea called catechins. These guys trigger the release of fat from fat cells (particularly in the belly) and then speeding up the liver's capacity for turning that fat into energy.
Pomegranate juice may play a role in preventing breast cancer, according to this recent study by The University at Albany. When pomegranate juice extract was injected into cancer stem cells, the fruit extract inhibited the cells' ability to multiply and form tumors, leading researchers to believe pomegranate can be exploited in the prevention of breast cancer. The next time you're craving something both sweet and tart, consider pomegranate juice for its anti-cancer benefits.
If you've been trying to cut back on coffee for better health, you may want to rethink your decision. Last summer, a study by Annals of Internal Medicine on the effects of regular coffee consumption indicated that those who drank java had a lower rate of death throughout the three-year period of observation. Coffee is loaded with antioxidants so go ahead and treat yourself the next time you're craving a cup.
It's not just blueberries that are a must for healthy eating. Their red-hued counterparts have been shown to slow the progression of aging, thanks to their abundance of polyphenols. Research from Food Chemistry found that an increased intake of strawberries was beneficial in maintaining mitochondrial function, which is key to staying sharp and youthful.
Purple Sweet Potatoes
Purple sweet potatoes may be tricky to track down at your local grocery store, but the search is well worth it. The spuds are rich in anthocyanin, a compound that has been shown to reduce the risk of lifestyle-related illnesses, including cancer. A recent study by The Journal of Cancer Protection found that diets rich in purple sweet potatoes lead to a decline in the frequency of cancer diagnoses in mice.
There's more to glowing skin than facials and exfoliators. A diet rich in Vitamin E and healthy fats will help you glow from the inside out, which is where almonds come into play. The popular nut is loaded with biotin, copper, Vitamin E, and monounsaturated fats, all of which will keep your complexion supple, clear, and wrinkle-free. They're also the star ingredient in many items on our list of The 25 Best Protein Snacks at The Supermarket.
Pistachios aren't just fun to eat; they're also your eye's best defense against age-related vision damage, too. The colorful nuts have plentiful amounts of Vitamin E, lutein, and zeaxanthin, all of which are great for keeping your peepers happy. Additionally, the healthy fat in pistachios will help you absorb other vision-promoting nutrients you consume throughout the day such as carotenoids.
Related: What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Pistachios
One of the fundamental building blocks of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil certainly lives up to its nutritional hype. A recent study by The Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine indicates that regularly consuming olive oil positively influenced cardiac ailments including coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, and chronic heart failure. Whether you're dipping bread in it or using it to dress a salad, be sure to incorporate some EVOO into your diet ASAP.
The breakfast staple will do wonders for your body at any time of the day. Grapefruits are rich in spermidine, which has major blood pressure lowering power according to this study by Autophagy. Lower blood pressure is linked to decreased risks of cardiovascular disease and premature death, so keeping your vitals in the healthy range is a must.
Apple Cider Vinegar
While the jury is still out on the correlation between apple cider vinegar and weight loss, there is plenty of research that backs its positive effects on blood sugar. According to this study by The American Diabetes Association, apple cider vinegar improves insulin sensitivities for subjects with Type 2 diabetes. If you're struggling to keep your blood sugar levels in check, considering downing this vinegar regularly.
Matcha lattes aren't just trendy on Instagram, they're popular with nutritionists and health specialists for a variety of benefits. Most recently, there's reason to believe that sipping the concentrated green tea powder will result in improved cognitive function. According to this study by Food Research International, participants who drank matcha experienced in an increase in attention and psychomotor speed. The next time you need to focus, consider grabbing one of these green-hued drinks.
This Peruvian plant is an up and coming superfood that you should consider adopting now, especially if you want resilient skin. According to research by High Altitude Medicine and Biology, maca promotes skin healing and regeneration because of its abundance of trace minerals including B6, niacin, and riboflavin. You can toss a powdered version of the plant into a smoothie to up your skincare game effortlessly.
Chia seeds are nutritional powerhouses because they are chock full of healthy fats, Omega 3s, and fiber. They may also be able to suppress the growth of breast cancer tumors, according to research from The University of Toronto's Department of Nutritional Sciences. The seeds are loaded with α-linolenic acid, a fatty acid that has been shown to reduce cancerous cell growth and slow the progression of tumors.
Not sure how to work chia into your diet? Check out this list of 45 Chia Pudding Recipes for Weight Loss.
In addition to having plenty of muscle-building protein, salmon is rich in Omega 3s, which nourish skin and keep it looking supple and healthy. Additionally, salmon has ample amounts of selenium, a mineral that helps protect skin from UV exposure, one of the biggest causes of wrinkles and premature skin aging. Talk about a multitasking meal!
Eat enough cranberries and your risk for needing dentures later in life should decline, according to a recent study by Archives Oral Biology. The research indicated that consuming cranberry extract reduced the amount of wear on the calcified tissue of the teeth, meaning they were stronger and less likely to chip or crack.
Tart Cherry Juice
Did you know it gets harder to catch quality ZZZs as you age? Insomnia can have a host of adverse health effects, so it's important you treat it as soon as possible. One way to do this is through ingesting tart cherry juice, which may reduce insomnia according to a study by Louisiana State University. The drink increased tryptophan availability and reduced inflammation, two factors that can play a major role in the quality and duration of one's sleep.
While binge drinking is never a good idea, a glass of red wine might be. Research from The Journal of Cardiovascular Disease Research shows that the antioxidants in red wine can exert protective functions such as decreasing oxidative stress and inflammation in the heart. The next time you're dying to unwind with a glass of vino, do not hesitate to indulge guilt-free.
Related: Experts Say These are the Best Red Wines
These orange veggies are rich in carotenoids, a compound that may slow the appearance of aging. According to this study by Nutrients, increases in carotenoid-rich food consumption is linked to increased collagen production. Collagen is a must for healthy, nourished skin, so be sure to chomp on some carrots to keep your complexion glowing.
Carrots are not the only piece of orange produce you should consume if you want to keep youth on your side. Oranges are super rich in Vitamin C, which helps skin look bright and refreshed. Additionally, the citrus fruit is filled with the same carotenoid compounds carrots have, which are instrumental in collagen production.
These secret fruits may hold the key to combating a host of ailments thanks to their abundance of lycopene. Research by The University of Toronto shows that consuming ample amounts of lycopene is associated with a reduced risk of developing chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Whether it's in a sauce or sliced on a sandwich, be sure to sneak some tomatoes into your diet every day.
Need an immune booster? Look no further than this trendy fermented beverage to annihilate a host of potentially harmful bacteria. According to this study by The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, salmonella and E. Coli are two of a handful of microorganisms that were sensitive to kombucha. Be sure to drink up this cold and flu season to feel good all winter long.
Honey was a common remedy for a host of ailments in ancient civilizations, and thanks to recent research by Current Drug Metabolism, it's making a comeback. Manuka honey, in particular, has been shown to have a mixture of compounds that contain antibacterial properties and can aid in healing and tissue regeneration. Talk about some sweet benefits!
The next time you're feeling under the weather, consider having some ginger to ease any queasiness. According to this study by Nutrients, ginger eased nausea in patients receiving chemotherapy and improved their quality of life. The plant has a variety of compounds that make it anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, making it the perfect remedy for a variety of stomach ailments.
This orange-hued spice owes many of its healing properties to its active compound, curcumin. Research by The Journal of Interferon and Cytokine Research shows that curcumin is effective in preventing osteoarthritis thanks to its ability to reduce inflammation. It is also great for weight loss and made our list of 40 Best Fat-Burning Foods.
The namesake ingredient in acai bowls, this super berry does more than contribute to a pretty breakfast. This study by Toxicology Research shows that acai berry extract exhibited wound healing properties when injected into cells. In addition to their healing properties, acai berries are rich in antioxidants, as well as fiber and heart-healthy fats.
Pumpkin is more than a festive squash; it is one of the richest sources of beta-carotene available. This nutrient has been shown to protect skin from sun damage according to research by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, thanks to its abundance of micronutrients. While you still need to be vigilant about applying sunscreen, having this base protection from beta carotene will help ensure your skin stays safe from UV damage.
If you have Type 2 diabetes or insulin sensitivity and are struggling to keep your blood sugar levels intact, consider doubling down on your cinnamon intake. According to a recent study by The American Diabetes Association, consuming 1-6 grams of this spice daily can help patients reduce glucose, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels. Add some cinnamon to your next smoothie or bowl of oatmeal to keep your blood sugar levels in the healthy range.
Related: Secret Effects of Using Cinnnamon, According to Science
Flaxseed has a host of benefits, and according to this study by Cryobiology, fertility may be one of them. When goats were fed flaxseed oil, their sperm numbers and vitality increased, especially when Vitamin E was co-supplemented. Flaxseed has tons of Omega 3's, so whether you're trying to conceive or not, it is a worthwhile addition to any healthy diet.
Want to stay sharp as you age? According to this study by The Journal of Ginseng Research, adding ginseng may help suppress cognitive decline associated with aging. Ginseng helped regulate antioxidant defense systems and, as an added bonus, decreased triglyceride levels. If you want to try upping your intake of this super-plant, consider checking ginseng capsules or making a cup of ginseng tea.
This sesame-based paste does a lot more than add creaminess to your favorite Mediterranean meals. Tahini is rich in calcium, which promotes bone density, as well as healthy polyunsaturated fats to keep your hair and skin supple. As a bonus, it's rich in B vitamins and methionine, which supports liver health.
These super-sized nuts are an excellent source of selenium, a mineral that is known to help fight oxidative damage. Additionally, they are rich in magnesium, potassium, and calcium which is a must for strong bones. When you're looking for a crunchy midday snack, consider munching on a handful of Brazil nuts to up your nutrient intake for the day.
Mushrooms are a mainstay in a variety of pasta, salads, and sandwiches, but did you know they are also powerful inflammation fighters? Research by Food Function has shown that the linoleic acid found in the fungi is partially responsible for this, due to its ability to reduce inflammatory activity in cells. Looking for a recipe recommendation? Check out the Turkey Mushroom Bolognese in our list of 50 Cheap and Easy Slow Cooker Recipes.
If you want to make sure your metabolism stays up to speed after menopause, consider indulging in some dark chocolate. According to this study by The Journal of Nutrition, subjects who consumed chocolate with a high concentration of cocoa showed improvements in metabolic function and blood flow responses. Since dark chocolate has a higher concentration of cocoa than other types of chocolate, be sure to opt for it when picking a treat.
These tiny seeds are mighty when it comes to packing a manganese punch. Just one ounce will provide 64 percent of your Daily Value of the micronutrient, which is needed to activate the amino acids that play a role in collagen production. Since collagen works wonders for your hair, skin, and nails, loading up on pumpkin seeds is a great way to keep your complexion youthful and protect your locks as you age.
Lemon juice does more than add some zest to your cooking; it is also a fantastic source of Vitamin C. In addition to upping your immunity, Vitamin C can improve the appearance of your skin by reducing inflammation and pigmentation and promoting collagen production. Consequently, it's an active ingredient in a multitude of skincare products, but you can reap the same beauty benefits by consuming the tart juice, for a fraction of the cost.
This breakfast staple is rich in choline, a mineral that has been shown to slow cognitive decline according to research by The Boston University School of Medicine. In a study, rats who consumed high levels choline were protected from brain changes associated with Alzheimer's disease. Eggs are also high in protein and Omega 3's, making them a great way to pack in nutrients early in the day.
Related: 20 Things Everyone Should Know About Eggs
Blackberries are one of the most antioxidant-rich fruits to add to your diet. According to a study published by Food and Function, the polyphenol antioxidants in blackberries fight damage from free radicals in your body and also assist in the process of wound healing.
This veggie is packed with essential nutrients, like sulforaphane, to keep your body in tip-top shape. A study conducted by Department of Pharmacology at the University of Bologna in Italy has shown that sulforaphane actually helps fight off cancer by acting as a "therapeutic agent" on cancer cells.
These dried plums are more than just a tasty treat: they contain vitamin K, which helps promote bone health. A study published by EFORT Open Reviews proved that this vitamin is essential in promoting bone health and helps reduce risk of osteoporosis.
A high level of triglycerides in your body could lead to heart disease, so it's very important to keep levels low. According to a study published by The Korean Journal of Family Medicine, yogurt has been proven to assist in lowering triglyceride levels in the body.
Tuna is a lean meat, which means it's high in protein with low amounts of fat, so it's a beneficial choice for dieters. This fish has also been proven by the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at Pukyong National University to have anti-aging properties. The university's findings showed that tuna's unsaturated fatty acids can actually help reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Pineapple contains a nutrient called manganese which helps keep your skin feeling smooth and looking fresh. A study by Dermato-Endocrinology showed that manganese is very beneficial in anti-aging and that a deficiency in the nutrient can actually lead to premature aging.
This super-spice is beneficial for your eye health. A study published by Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine proved that eating saffron can help maintain retinal health and prevent retinal damage from age-related macular degeneration.
Kale is packed with beneficial nutrients for your body, like vitamin K, potassium and lutein. These nutrients have been proven to be helpful in maintaining bone and skin health. A study by the Laser and Skin Surgery Center of New York found that vitamin K can help with discoloration, and another study from the University of Surrey found that potassium is helpful in strengthening bones and reducing risk of osteoporosis.
Cucumbers can keep your skin quenched thanks to its high water content. A study published by The Journal of Aging Research and Clinical Practice found that cucumbers actually have an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin, as well as soothing properties for digestion.
Asparagus is extremely helpful in slowing the process of aging on one of the most important organs in your body: your brain. A study by Tufts University showed that the combination of folate and vitamin B12, which is found in asparagus, can actually increase cognitive function in seniors.
Oysters are filled with zinc, which is an essential nutrient for skin repair. A study conducted by the Imperial College Faculty of Medicine found that zinc is helpful in the wound-healing process of skin, and helps kill harmful bacteria in wounds.
Now that you're up to speed on the foods you should eat to stay young, what about the ones you should avoid? Check out this list of 20 Foods That Age You 20 Years.
If you suffer from symptoms of inflammation, you should try adding more garlic into your diet. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food has shown that garlic actually has anti-inflammatory properties. The sulfur-containing compounds in garlic have been proven to alleviate inflammation, according to the study's results. If you're eager to stock up on more inflammation-fighting foods, check out this list of 30 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods.
And next, don't miss The Best Anti-Aging Diets, According to Science.